(UPDATED MAY 2020) Located between the cities of Austin and San Antonio, Texas Hill Country is comprised of many towns in the state’s central area. I discovered fantastic food quality, smart recipes, and tantalizing eats on a recent vacation to the Texas Hill Country with my family. The food was so impressive that I could not wait to share my experiences with our readers.
Most of the Hill Country restaurants buy local and offer delicious Tex Mex, Barbecue, and German-inspired dishes, three of my favorites. It was wonderful to find such good food and even better service and hospitality in the Lone Star state. Here are eight places you should eat in the Texas Hill Country.
1. Milagro’s Hill Country Tex-Mex, Wimberley
Eddie (my husband) and I stopped at Milagro’s Hill Country Tex-Mex on our way into Canyon Lake, Texas. We sat on the outdoor patio, which was packed with large parties. Milagro’s is pet-friendly, artsy and festive, and a perfect place to take children. They even have a large outside play area.
The food at Milagro’s was a great way to kick-start our Texas family vacation. The chips, salsa, and queso made perfect starters, and the SW Chicken Caesar salad and Top Shelf Chicken Fajita Nachos were perfect for sharing. Our nachos had big chunks of succulent chicken and ooey-gooey melted cheese piled high on the chips and were topped with mounds of sour cream, guacamole, pico de gallo, and jalapeños. They were impeccable! Eddie loved Milagro’s Fire & Ice Margarita, an excellent accompaniment for the meal.
2. Gruene River Grill, New Braunfels
The Gruene River Grill caught my interest from the look of the inviting sign out front. It is a beautifully designed and decorated restaurant with huge parlor rooms. One was filled with bookcases that reminded me of the library from the Beauty & the Beast movie. Gruene River Grill’s design was rustic, yet chic, and it worked beautifully. Eddie, our daughter Taylor, and I enjoyed lunch on the outdoor patio while watching people floating in tubes down the Guadalupe River beneath us.
For lunch, we had the Fried Shrimp Platter (with Asian slaw), Queso Chicken (with black beans and rice), and Smoked Pork Tacos. The Asian slaw had black poppy seeds. I loved the sweet and crunchy taste, plus it was a unique menu item.
The color of the black beans in the Queso Chicken gave it an odd look (almost purple), but the taste was superb! The chicken’s delicate queso sauce was the constancy of cheese fondue and tasted freaking nom! Eddie loved his Pork Tacos, and Taylor devoured her shrimp.
For dessert, we shared Gruene River Grill’s Blackberry Cobbler, sweet and delicious! Do not miss this tasty little number.
3. Silver Creek Beer Garden, Fredericksburg
My family met some friends in Fredericksburg and stopped for drinks. We chose Silver Creek Beer Garden because of its massive selection of beers, cocktail menu, and appetizers.
Our drinks, a Moscow Mule, 30-ounce Margaritas (mostly ice, I would skip it), local wines, craft beer, peach Rum Bellinis (yum!), and cherry limeade Margaritas (a Texas favorite), definitely quenched our thirsts!
To munch on, we had the beautiful Sausage Sampler with Bratwurst, Knackwurst, and Pepperwurst, which was served with rye bread and German mustard. Another dish we tried was the Spinach Artichoke Dip, with veggies and red tortilla strips for dipping.
My favorite appetizer was the Fried Phyllo wrapped log of Triple Cream Brie Cheese, and topped with a velvety tomato cream sauce. It was tough to share that Brie because I wanted it all for myself.
Silver Creek Beer Garden had musicians entertaining the patio crowd and a killer bar in the back. It was a memorable and fun stop in Fredericksburg.
4. Rathskeller Restaurant, Fredericksburg
Rathskeller Restaurant is in the basement of the circa 1800 old Keidel Hospital, which was a bit tricky to find. Our large party was given a private room at Rathskeller. Although I chose this place for its German cuisine, Rathskeller’s menu was limited in those choices.
Between the seven of us, we tried the Chicken Sandwich, Chicken Artichoke (fabulous!), Chicken Philly Sandwich, Creole-style Red Beans & Rice (smoked jalapeño cheddar sausage..nom), Jaeger Schnitzel, and the “Lois” Speared Salmon Filet. The salmon was paired nicely with a lemon caper butter sauce and sautéed spinach. My Schnitzel came with a tangy red cabbage that wasn’t too tart or too sweet, German potato salad, and sauerkraut. We all enjoyed each of our dishes. Oi Oi Oi!
5. Mamacita’s Restaurant & Cantina, Fredericksburg
Mamacita’s is a chain restaurant with five locations in the Texas Hill Country. We stopped there after touring the Fredericksburg wineries, to get our Mexican fix. Inside Mamacita’s huge restaurant are unique stained glass windows, a bustling arcade, and many happy diners.
A staff member continually makes house-made made flour tortillas, and they come to the table puffy and piping hot. For dinner, we started with traditional Chili Con Queso. Mamacita’s also gives a complimentary avocado/sour cream-based sauce that was ultimate! An enormous Chicken Quesadilla, Tamales (highly recommended!), and Chicken Burrito with Mole Sauce completed our dinner orders. Mamacita’s mole sauce was rich and flavorful, honestly one of the best that I had ever eaten.
You’ll most definitely need a pitcher of tasty gold margaritas to go with the yummy Mexican fare.
6. Lucky’s Sports Bar & Grill, Canyon Lake
Lucky’s Sports Bar & Grill was close to the resort we stayed at in Canyon Lake. The food was so impressive that we ate there twice. We loved every dish we tried.
The Cuban Sandwich is certainly something to write home about. It was so flavorful and chock full of meat. I could have eaten two orders of the yummy Parmesan-dusted fries side dish.
On our second visit, we tried the Gumbo, Chicken Sandwich, Soft Tacos with Beans & Rice, Green Chili Cheeseburger, and the Pulled Pork Cuban Sandwich. Lucky’s gumbo was freaking delicious, and we all wished we had gone for the bowl instead of cup-size serving.
Lucky’s decor is standard for a sports bar, with memorabilia on the walls and several TVs. The cleanliness of the restaurant and bathrooms was impressive. Lucky’s also has a vast outdoor patio where a huge crowd gathered nightly.
7. On The Rocks Food and Spirits, Cottonwood Shores
On the Rocks Food and Spirits is another restaurant close to our hotel. It was my favorite place of the trip for quality food items and impeccable service.
On the Rocks gets rave reviews for its live music, a wide selection of tap beers, and premium cocktails. We went for lunch and immediately dug into the Queso, Chips, and Salsa on the starters menu. The four of us fought over the velvety smooth Queso.
For our main items, we chose Fish & Chips (with hand-cut fries), Wings, BBQ Pulled Pork Sandwich, and Pulled Pork Chile Relleno. The first thing we noticed is that the wings were super meaty, and the taste was heavenly. My Chile Relleno came with an “off-the-hook” Gourmet Macaroni & Cheese, and I equally loved the artichoke vegetable medley. This dish was a perfect 10 in my book for originality and deliciousness.
This foodie ranks On the Rocks an A+ all the way around.
8. Rio Rio Cantina, San Antonio
Rio Rio is where we ate during our day trip to San Antonio. The location on the San Antonio River Walk and Tex-Mex menu appealed to our cravings.
A phenomenal Chile Con Queso (do you see a trend?), which was more like a luscious fondue, kicked off our meal. Our lunch choices were Chicken Fajitas, Burrito de Barbacoa, Mexican Rice and Refried Beans, and the Combination Enchiladas. For those of you not familiar, barbacoa is a Texas delicacy—super-rich and tender Akaushi beef cheeks.
I didn’t care for Rio Rio’s guacamole and thought the rice was dry and uneventful, but other than that; everything else was delightful. Rio Rio Cantina offers awesome happy hour specials, and the Premium Margaritas by the pitcher is the way to go; sure to wet your whistle and whet your appetite.
Eating My Way Through Hill Country
And there you have it, my list of eight places to eat in the Texas Hill Country. If you have ever been to any of the restaurants mentioned, I would love to know what you thought of your meal. Do you have any suggestions for my next visit?
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