By the time I finished the hike at Enchanted Rock, I needed a meal…a late lunch or early dinner. My original plan was to stop at the Hilltop Café, just north of downtown Fredericksburg. I had read about the Hilltop Café in my research for this trip. It sounded like a very cool, funky place. Unfortunately, I didn’t realize that it is closed from 2:00pm to 5:00pm, and it was now about 3:00pm.
But, I was headed that way, anyway, so I stopped in. It was closed, but as I was confirming the closed sign on the door, a very friendly woman came to the door and asked if she could help me. I briefly explained my trip and my interest in seeing what the Hilltop Café was all about…and she invited me inside, not only to show me around, but to give me the history of the place and of the blues-guitarist owner, Johnny Nicholas, who has played (and still does) with many well-known musicians, like Bonnie Raitt.
I was actually too tired to take any pictures, despite Kayla, my guide, telling me I could take as many as I’d like. So, this is one of those situations where I know I’ll have to come back. If you are in the Fredericksburg area, you should definitely check it out. It’s one of the coolest places in the Hill Country.
I was still looking for somewhere to get a good meal, so I asked Kayla. She suggested Hondo’s on Main Street in Fredericksburg, so I headed there. Now, I didn’t make the connection at first, but Hondo (reading his abbreviated bio on the Hondo site), was the self-proclaimed mayor of Luckenbach, TX, among many other things. Hondo was a character, according to everything I’ve read. And his spirit lives on at Luckenbach and Hondo’s On Main, and many other places in that area of the Hill Country, I suspect.
Hondo’s is another stop you should try to make if you get the chance. The vibe is very funky…and the food is great. I opted for the pulled pork tamales. Here’s a photo of my nearly half-gone half-dozen:
And by the time I was done with my dinner, I was too tired and it was getting too late for any more scenic drives, so I decided to skip the latter plans on my turn-by-turn directions and head straight to the Double U Barr Ranch, just outside of Bandera (cowboy capital of Texas), where I’d be staying for the next two nights.
The Double U Barr is a guest ranch, but they have quite a few animals…half a dozen longhorn steer, chickens, dogs, cats…along with the armadillo that was rooting around the front porch of my little guest cabin…and deer all over the yard.
Here are a few random snapshots I captured:
Here is the main house and my cabin…the Cowboy cabin (there are two. The Texan being the other), as well as the main driveway with pecan trees to the right.
And here are my hosts…owners of the Double U Barr, and two of the kindest, nicest, friendliest and most helpful people you’ll ever meet…Brett and his wife, Gil:
Whether alone or in a group, Brett was extremely sociable and loved conversation. Gil was more reserved in a small group, but one-on-one, she had as much to say as Brett. I learned so much about them, how they bought and renovated the ranch over the past twenty years, Bandera and the Hill Country…from the inside.
There were two last stops in downtown Bandera that I wanted to at least briefly check out this first night in Bandera, so as soon as I got settled and freshened-up in the Cowboy Cabin, I headed out into the pitch black night (have I mentioned that outside of any town (and minimally in small towns, for that matter), there are absolutely no streetlights in the Hill Country? The Hill Country is as dark as pitch at night. It can be very disorienting. You really have no idea what direction you are heading in, driving at night, unless you live there and gradually get used to how to get here and there.)
So, the two downtown Bandera destinations were, the 11th Street Cowboy Bar, and Arkey Blue’s Silver Dollar (I could not find an official website), a true sawdust-on-the-dance-floor old-school honky-tonk. Both were one easy walking block from each other, so it was easy to get a glimpse of both at one time.
I knew I was going to be in Bandera for another night, so I did not bring my DSLR camera, and only took a couple of snapshots with my cellphone. Here is one from the ceiling of the indoor bar of the 11th Street Cowboy Bar that I’ll leave you with, just to give you an idea of what you are in for when you go: