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Marfa-Alpine-Big Bend

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Anybody gone lately?

I know about the Pizza Company in Marfa, and there's some Italian restaurant there. And Reata.

What else?

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  1. Now there's a nice coincidence! I just got back from there this afternoon and was going to post my report. Here's a summary of the places you asked about.

    Marfa: The Pizza Foundation and Squeeze Marfa were both closed while we were there. We had two very nice dinners, at Jett's Grill (in the Paisano Hotel) and Maiya's. Service at Jett's was inexperienced and unpolished, but friendly. My grilled quail with cranberries and walnuts was quite good. I thought my husband's Tuscan flank steak with sundried tomatoes was tough, but he liked it. We enjoyed the food and service at Maiya's; we had vodka pasta (penne in a very rich cheese and cream sauce with, of course, vodka) and Italian sausage in a balsamic reduction. Food was also good at our B&B, the Arcon Inn; the place was dusty (well, after all, Marfa is dusty) and we sneezed a lot but the house was nice and Mona, the innnkeeper, is a delight.

    Big Bend: The only place to eat in the park is the park service lodge (Chisos Mtns. Lodge), and it actually wasn't half bad. They make a big, juicy cheeseburger, served on Texas toast. The breakfast buffet was more than adequate, though not the stuff of chowhound dreams. We didn't eat anywhere in Study Butte, Terlingua, or Lajitas.

    Alpine: Now there are a couple of real finds here! First of all, a BIG shout out to Timmy Chan for recommending Alicia's Burrito Place. The burritos are outstanding, and you can get any combination you've ever dreamed of having on a breakfast burrito. This is a tiny little joint with three tables and a few seats at the counter. People were just trickling in when we arrived at 8:30 yesterday morning. If this place were in Houston, the line would be out the door and wrapped twice around the building by that hour.

    But our favorite find in Alpine is the Edelweiss restaurant and microbrewery in the Holland Hotel (a great place to stay, very attractive and comfortable). The weiner schnitzel was the best I've ever had. An expatriate Bavarian oversees the restaurant and lovingly brews a variety of splendid beers on-site. If you like dark beers you owe it to yourself to rush immediately to Alpine and enjoy his Texas Black Gold. Others include Alpine Blonde, Brewster Brew, and another I've forgotten...the locals at the bar are friendly (as is the brewmaster) and we had a delightful evening. The nice thing about staying in the hotel is that once you've finished sampling the beers, you just toddle upstairs and go to sleep.

    You didn't ask about Marathon, but there's a real find there too: the fried pies at Shirley's Burnt Biscuit Bakery. They come in apricot, peach, and apple, and are huge, flaky, and very sweet. You couldn't eat them every day, but they are a special treat, and so is Shirley. Alas, the bakery is only open Mon-Fri, as we learned to our sorrow when we passed through Marathon again yesterday. Re: Cafe Cenizo at the Gage, my beef tenderloin was perfectly prepared; my husband had an excellent plate of slow-smoked cabrito, or it would have been excellent if it had not been almost cold. Service was rather haphazard. The hotel was fine, just remember it's old and the rooms are small (but nicely renovated).

    Have a great trip. I hope you are going soon, as it's already pretty hot. Don't miss the hike into Santa Elena Canyon, if you've never done it.

    1 Reply
    1. re: Zorra

      You're welcome for the Alicia's recommendation. ;^)

      I was just out in the area a few weeks ago, and we didn't spend any significant time in Alpine, just enough to eat at Alicia's on two different occasions (one on the way in, one on the way out). Of course, both times, I ran into 2 or 3 different people I know in the area. It's that way every time I stop in there...you tend to run into old friends there.

      Alicia's is the greatest. I've wished MANY times that she would pick up and move to Houston, but of course it wouldn't be the same.

      I missed out on Edelweiss, but I heard very good things about it. I guess we'll hit it up next time we're out there.

      The only other recommendation I can add is the Meatloaf Sandwich at the Town & Country gas station. I don't remember where I read about it, but I heard about it, and tried it...and ended up eating three of them throughout our visit. Every time we stopped in Alpine on our trip, I picked one up...and carried one home for good measure too! Not fine dining, but very tasty! It's a slab of meatloaf on a hamburger bun, with jalapenos and onions. Good stuff.

    2. Same question, 2 years later. Any new recommendations for Marfa? We will be staying at the Paisano Hotel, and maybe service has improved at Jett's. We will be driving from the Witchita Falls area, through Odessa, so any breakfast, lunch or dinner spots along the route would be a help.
      Is Cafe Cenizo still open?

      1 Reply
      1. Just got back from Marfa and here is the brief rundown. Had dinner on Saturday at Maiya's, jammed with people for the holiday, luckily we had reservations. Waiter was great, he recommended penne puttanesca which was outstanding. Husband tried the sausage with the balsamic reduction mentioned here and it was great. Also had great melon appetizer. Husband had dessert which was ginger ice cream with belgian chocolate which was one of the best desserts we have tried. A great place. Highly recommended.
        Had early dinner at Pizza Foundation. Shared 1/2 pizza with good thin crust, also had nice Ceasar salad. They are BYOB, so we brought in our own beer. Highly recommended.
        Had breakfast at Brown Recluse. They had a very abbreviated menu for the holiday weekend, which was a shame because I was looking forward to their migas. Husband had lemon pancakes which were delicious. I had eggs and toast which were nothing special. Had caffe mexicana which was out of this world. Recommended but try to eat there when they have the full menu.
        Frozen limeades from the coffee shop next to the book store are filling on a hot day, but the best cherry limeade ever is at the Old Texas Inn malt shop in Fort Davis. Worth the drive. So good we wanted to cry.

        1. My boyfriend and I just did the Marfa/Big Bend trip in March.

          Big Bend: Ate at all the little local restaurants in Terlingua, as we stayed off in Terlingua Ranch. Ghosttown Cafe - no booze but a patio with a slick view. Good heavy fried food. Delicious, but not the best after we'd been hiking in the heat all day. Starlight Cafe - the Terlingua staple. Food was fine - we had the enchiladas, onion rings, queso, and burger. Just plain and good. Also, there was a traveling circus performing the night we went - WIN! Great people watching for both locals and tourists. We went wearing nasty hiking clothes and were welcomed with open arms.

          Marfa: Had drinks at Mayia's - sexy spartan interior, friendly bartender. Dinner at THE BLUE JAVELINA - fantastic dinner, gorgeous interior, saw 3 of our local friends we made throughout the day dining there so it's got to be legit. Something for everyone on the menu. I would recommend this as a MUST. We absolutely loved it.

          After dinner, had drinks around the fire pit on the patio outside of the Thunderbird's bar. Made friends with awesome hipster locals and the bartender. Our 3 hrs. worth of many mexican beers and vinho verdes ended up being only $20 bucks.

          Also had breakfast at the Brown Recluse. Dug the random tunes. Just had a basic American breakfast and it was nothing special, but definitely satisfying. Really wish we could have sat out front - those looked like the ideal spot.

          3 Replies
          1. re: LonghornLass

            This thread is amazing. Marfa, Marathon, and Alpine, who would believe it. My brother lives in Midland, and when I post, I get two recommendations for restaurants in Midland. Jorge's and Wall Street. How it is that these 3 small towns have so many great restaurants is beyond me. I'm heading for Midland (from Denver) in a couple of weeks, and then on to Laredo. I'm hoping I can talk my brother into making some stops on the way. Thanks to everybody who contributed to this thread.

            1. re: dhedges53

              lol but so true! well you can thank donald judd + the houston/nyc art world connections for marfa and the young monied crowd it attracts to the region.

              i can ditto most of longhorns recs , minus the JAVELINA & replacing it with the PIZZA CONNECTION. i'd add the we went into ojinaga while we around big bend/terlingua and as i recall we ate at LA POBLANA and it was just fine. if you are down there i think a run over the border to o-jay is a must.

              1. re: mrnyc

                Pizza Connection? Do you mean Pizza Foundation?

          2. you won't believe your taste buds when you try the marathon coffee shop soon to be the "el peppercorn cafe & marathon coffee!!!! OmG!

            1. Dining in Marfa: Maiyas (the "Italian" restaurant) seems to have gone downhill lately. Overpriced and uninspired - avoid. I'd go for Cochineal - it is the best restaurant in Marfa, hands down. Local ingredients, ever-changing menu, and incredible desserts - order the chocolate souffle or date pudding. Try Tacos Del Norte for breakfast and lunch.
              Prickly pear margaritas at the Paisano's (Jett's Grill) are delicious!

              2 Replies
              1. re: inwatermelonsugar

                It is almost time for Terlingua, I am planning on the trip to chili mecca... all in the same neck of the woods.

                1. re: DallasDude

                  On a recent trip - one of our many to the region - we found the dining selections and quality limited. It's always difficult, but we remain hopeful that some new quirky high-quality restaurant will have opened since our last trip - and that none of our former favs have closed.

                  Anyway, the only solid recommendations that I can make are Cafe Cenizo at The Gage Hotel in Marathon and KD's Barbecue in Midland (Exit 138 from I-20).

                  Dining at the Chisos Mountains Lodge is passable, especially when you're hungry after hiking all day, but has declined in recent visits.

                  The Rodriquez Cafe in Saragoza offers authentic Tex-Mex, and has been especially good for breakfast, if you're staying in the northern part of the BB region - e.g., Balmorhea Springs, an uber-cool constant-temperature mega swimming hole with crystal clear twenty-five-feet-deep water and a variety of fascinating aquatic life.

                  We couldn't find anything in Marfa and ended up moving on to Alpine. Next time, we'll look for Cochineal, with Maiya's as a back up. I understand that The Blue Javelina closed this summer.

                  By far the biggest disappointment was Reata in Alpine - origin of the dining establishment in Fort Worth. Supposedly, they are the flagship dining experience for the region, but I found the food and service spotty at best, and everything obscenely overpriced - $12.95 for a kid's chicken-finger plate? C'mon! $230 for seven people without alcohol - you'd think I was kidding. Food has been good (and pricey) in the past, but this time it was out of hand on a number of levels. Seldom do I say this, but I will never be back.

                  Most of the places in the Lajitas/Terlingua/Study Butte stretch are of dependable, if not stellar, quality and pricing, and the Starlight Theatre has been the most fun, especially for local entertainment and drinks. Food was unremarkable and the service excruciatingly slow.

                  In any event, for the best consistently good dining in my experience of the region over 15 years or so, make a reservation at Cafe Cenizo. Not cheap, but it sure is good.

              2. Husband and I just went to Marfa for 4 days, such an amazing place! Lunch _ Food Shark is a MUST- didn't go anywhere else. For dinner we tried a few places but wish we ate every night at Cochineal, it is truly some of the best food ever (and we are from NYC!)- also Padre's is great for burgers or frito pie!!