Written by Texas Highways
When Athens voters decided to make the town wet in 2012, one couple in Austin —Bess and Mike Suarez—took particular notice. Bess had grown up in Athens, and the couple had entertained the idea of leaving Austin for East Texas before. But the vote allowed them to come up with a plan to open a specialty store featuring craft beer and quality wines, the likes of which Athens and surrounding communities hadn’t yet seen.
Texans known better than most: there’s something romantic about playing the part of a cowboy. Clint West of Wildcatter Ranch muses that maybe old westerns are to blame.
When I told my wife, Laura, about my idea of a road trip across the Rio Grande Valley, she was initially skeptical. “What will you see that you haven’t seen before?” she asked.
Like many Texans who have a fondness for pancakes, I keep a list of favorite places to eat them. Magnolia Pancake Haus in San Antonio recently joined that list. On a recent visit, after perusing the menu at length and admiring the dozens of commemorative souvenir plates that serve as decoration, I ordered Magnolia’s “world famous” buttermilk pancakes with blueberries. The short stack came cooked to perfection, evenly browned and fluffy, with a fresh, slightly sweet taste.
As the craft-beer movement explodes in the Lone Star State, well-made beers are originating beyond Texas’ major cities and long-established small-town breweries. This is particularly evident in East Texas. Beer-lovers seeking new breweries to explore should drive 90 minutes east of the Dallas/Fort Worth Metroplex, or a few hours north from either Austin or Houston, to visit three breweries separated by just 60 miles of tree-shaded roads.
Inside the modest painted-brick building that houses Huntsville’s Farmhouse Cafe, comfort awaits—both on the plate and in spirit. In the springtime, large planters on the restaurant’s side patio brim with cheerful sunflowers, and year-round when the wind blows, an old-fashioned windmill spins steadily overhead, its tail assembly painted to resemble the Texas flag. Inside, an American flag hangs from an interior window, and the walls are decorated with paintings of pigs, cows, roosters, and geese, along with diamond-shaped mirrors, vintage advertisements, and wall planters full of ivy and other greenery.
The first lighthouses came to Texas shores in 1852, built to guide ships past sandbars and shoals at river mouths and through tricky passes between barrier islands. The government constructed several types of lighthouses, including cast iron, masonry, wood, and screw-pile styles. While many have succumbed to storms, beach erosion, or demolition, six sturdy sentinels still mark our coast.
It’s not a suburb, but a borough. Not an extension, but a separate township, at least spiritually. Although Dallas annexed Oak Cliff in 1903, the 87-square-mile area southwest of downtown has maintained its own identity. If Dallas is the packed dance floor under a disco ball, then Oak Cliff is the mysterious couple at the dark end of the bar playing footsie.
Sparkling chandeliers illuminate a couple seated in a pair of vivid green, high-backed chairs. Light streaming through a row of French doors throws shadows on the patterned carpet and highlights the gleaming inlaid rosewood of a grand piano. A marble stairwell winds gracefully to the second floor, and the ambiance suggests a bygone era of San Antonio’s rich history.
The Audie Murphy/American Cotton Museum in Greenville could just as easily be called the Hunt County Historical Museum. But why not lead with your best stuff?
Tucked away in the Texas Panhandle is a town that exists on its own time. It’s a place where bison herds still roam freely, ancient canyons feel untouched by human hands, and “urbanization” is just a fancy word in the dictionary with no application to real life. To slow down my own pace, I saddled my modern wagon of steel and headed off for some time in Turkey.
“Amazing,” writes one contributor to a web site called “Find Me Gluten Free,” which notes staples like chicken fried steak and cream gravy are available without gluten at Ranchman’s Café with advance notice. Ranchman’s owner, Dave Ross, discovered he was gluten-intolerant in 2001 when he was experimenting with sourdough bread cultures using high gluten flour.