I think we can all agree that the best restaurants are those with a story. The ones where you can feel the weight of decades of memories the second you step through the door. We’re very lucky to have a plethora of these such restaurants in Texas. Unfortunately, I can’t list them all, but these 11 are particularly distinctive in terms of character and food. They’re all extremely delicious and deserve a visit if you’re ever in the area.
1. Stagecoach Inn Restaurant (Salado)
This inn was a stopping point on the Chisolm Trail for travelers on horseback over a century ago, and its adjoining restaurant is the oldest eatery in Texas. The rustic frontier architecture will take you back to olden days - not to mention the food is delicious.
2. Mary's Cafe (Strawn)
Mary's has been serving up some of the best chicken-fried steak in Texas for decades. People come to the little town of Strawn from all over the state to get a taste of real down-home cookin' where love is one of the main ingredients.
3. OST Restaurant (Bandera)
Bandera is the self-proclaimed "Cowboy Capital of the World," and this restaurant definitely corroborates that. OST is short for "Old Spanish Trail," a proposed tourist route across the Southern U.S. Although that plan never exactly panned out, the restaurant, with its bar stools shaped like saddles and other Old West decorations, still draws plenty of hungry Texans every day.
4. Jefferson General Store (Jefferson)
Jefferson is one of the most historic towns in Texas, so it makes sense that it would have old-fashioned general stores that have played a big part in the rich history. Complete with a soda fountain and every type of candy from your childhood, this store takes nostalgia to a whole new level.
5. Midpoint Cafe (Adrian)
Located smack-dab midway between Los Angeles and Chicago, this diner is supposedly the oldest restaurant on the Texas stretch of Route 66. Travelers praise it for its delicious hamburgers and homemade pies.
6. Gaidos (Galveston)
This seaside inn has been serving up some of the freshest seafood in Texas since 1911. It's been through two major hurricanes that ravaged the Gulf Coast, but that didn't deter it one bit. Some of the waiters have been with the restaurant long enough to see both of the tragedies through and form relationships with the locals who frequent the establishment. It truly is an amazing place.
7. Black's Barbecue (Lockhart)
Black's has been serving up arguably the best barbecue in Texas since 1932, making it the oldest BBQ restaurant in the state. It's literally become a part of our state's history since so many people's paths have crossed with it over the years.
8. La King's Confectionery (Galveston)
La King's is definitely a blast from the past. You can watch the workers hand-spinning salt water taffy in their old-fashioned uniforms and eat a cone full of Purity ice cream, Texas' first ice cream manufacturer.
9. Mi Tierra (San Antonio)
I can't think of a better word to describe Mi Tierra than iconic. It's been around since 1941 and evolved from a three-table cafe for early-rising farmers and Mercado workers to a world renowned attraction for both tourists and locals. You absolutely can't leave without trying one of the delicious authentic pastries in the dessert case.
10. Blue Bonnet Cafe (Marble Falls)
This diner has been serving up some the best pies, breakfast, and down-home cooking in Texas since 1929. It's won awards ranging from best restaurant to best service in the state, which isn't hard to agree with considering some of its employees have literally been around since day one.
11. Southside Market & Barbecue (Elgin)
Well, I take back what I said about Black's - apparently there's an even older BBQ joint in Texas! Southside has been around since 1882. That's less than 40 years after Texas became a state! This restaurant has literally grown up with our state, and Lord knows the chefs have had ample time to perfect their craft.