The Hill Country Restaurants

The Hill Country is an extension of the great eating opportunities—the amazing Tex-Mex and barbecue—of San Antonio and Austin, with the addition of heavy German influences. Fredericksburg certainly corners the market for relatively authentic German fare, but Boerne, Comfort, New Braunfels, and everywhere in between serve decent schnitzel and wurst. Barbecue bests are spread all over: the Salt Lick in Driftwood, Cooper's in Llano, and Cooper's in Mason (it's not a chain; they just happen to have the same name), and Rudy's Country Store in a number of locations between Austin and San Antonio, and in Leon Springs.

On the Hill Country backroads you're not going to get a whole lot of haute cuisine delivered by celebrity chefs, but you'd be surprised at some of the fine dining experiences you can have here. Two upscale restaurants to try in Fredericksburg are August E's and Rebecca's Table.

Most places are casual in the Hill Country. You may want to don your Sunday best for a few places, but you really don't need to. Boots and jeans are formal enough for the average restaurant, especially for men. You'll see plenty of local women wearing "country-chic" clothing, such as embroidered, tailored blazers, or swishy broomstick skirts—with boots, of course. In the summer heat you'll see many patrons wearing just about anything that keeps them cool.

Don't expect to dine too late into the evenings. With the exception of a few live-music bars and venues, most restaurants and cafés are finished serving by 9 or 10, especially during the week.

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  • 1. Altdorf Biergarten

    $$

    This biergarten on Main Street is always buzzing, and for good reason. Choose from a wide array of craft German beer while enjoying the live...Read More

  • 2. August E's

    $$$$

    In the heart of downtown Fredericksburg, August E's features a sleek Zen-like atmosphere thanks to its contemporary Asian decor. Chef-owner Leu Savanh adds a subtle...Read More

  • 3. Black's Barbecue

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    Although Black's now has locations in Austin, New Braunfels, and San Marcos, there's nothing like a visit to the original location in Lockhart, where pitmaster...Read More

  • 4. Brick's River Cafe

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    Locals and visitors alike flock to Brick's for country cooking with a view. The restaurant itself has a humble interior, but it's the patio overlooking...Read More

  • 5. Cabernet Grill

    $$$$

    If you want a Texas-size meal in the heart of the Hill Country, the Cabernet Grill has just what you're looking for. Chef-owner Ross Burtwell...Read More

  • 6. Gristmill

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    Dining at the Gristmill is as mandatory as shuffling your boots along the floors of Gruene Hall when visiting Gruene. On a sunny day, request...Read More

  • 7. High's Cafe & Store

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    This is the gathering spot in the morning for locals looking to savor a rich cup of coffee or a fully cooked breakfast. But lunch...Read More

  • 8. Kreuz Market

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    This sprawling landmark barbecue spot is another must when touring Lockhart for barbecue. Like Smitty's, this one has pits, so you can watch while you...Read More

  • 9. Longleaf Craft Kitchen + Bar

    $$

    Named for the longleaf pine lining the interior of the dining room, this craft kitchen and bar lets local and seasonal ingredients drive the menu,...Read More

  • 10. Old German Bakery & Restaurant

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    Though it's also open for lunch, most locals flock to this family-owned restaurant for a delicious and hearty breakfast. Lacy German pancakes come with butter...Read More

  • 11. Otto's German Bistro

    $$

    At his sleek but cozy bistro, chef Henry Gutkin focuses on some of Germany’s lesser-known dishes, reimagined with creative, refreshing twists. Bavarian Frittatensuppe (crepe soup)...Read More

  • 12. Pecan Street Brewing

    $$

    Locals will tell you Pecan Street Brewing is one of the area's best-kept secrets—not only for the house brews, but for the food, too. Try...Read More

  • 13. Peggy's on the Green

    $$$

    Set in a restored 19th-century dining room, this charming spot showcases elevated Southern cuisine created by chef Mark Bohanan (of San Antonio's Bohanan's steak house...Read More

  • 14. Salt Lick BBQ

    $$

    Drawing Texans and visitors alike out to the Hill Country since 1967, at Salt Lick you can order barbecue plates a la carte, but most...Read More

  • 15. Smitty's Market

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    If you're coming to Lockhart to experience its barbecue, a stop at Smitty's is an absolute must: it's still housed in the original 1948 Kreuz...Read More

  • 16. The Ausländer Restaurant and Biergarten

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    With its authentic German architecture, the Ausländer draws quite a crowd for lunch and dinner. For more than 20 years, it has been one of...Read More

  • 17. The Creek Restaurant

    $$$$

    Dining alongside Cibolo Creek in this historic house while listening to the rhythmic turn of a water mill is a treat. The upscale restaurant offers...Read More

  • 18. The Salt Lick

    $$

    If you see smoke rising while driving along FM 1826, don't be alarmed. It's just a barbecue beacon calling you to the perpetually smoking pits,...Read More

  • 19. Vaudeville

    $$

    This hip, modern interpretation of a European bistro also includes a retail showroom, art gallery, supper club, and wine club. The restaurant features rotating specials,...Read More

  • 20. 814: A Texas Bistro

    $$$

    Colorful, quilt-draped walls and a cool ceiling-fanned patio make this a comfortable spot no matter the weather. The menu changes with the season, but you...Read More

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