Active adult living sure can give you an appetite. Fortunately, the Texas Hill Country is a great place to live, play, and eat, with a myriad of culinary styles represented throughout the region. Austin is famous for its barbecue while residents of San Antonio are huge fans of Tex-Mex.
Because San Marcos is right in the middle of Austin and San Antonio, you’ll find the best of both culinary worlds throughout the town. Here’s our pick of the four best spots to dine near Kissing Tree in San Marcos.
1. Hays County Bar-B-Que
Hays County Bar-B-Que features a simple, no-frills menu that lets the meat speak for itself. Meat is available by the pound or as a sandwich, and three sides are offered: Beans, potato salad and coleslaw. Hays County smokes its briskets for up to 18 hours, and sausage is made in-house.
Sweet tea is offered by the gallon, and dessert options include homemade brownies, banana pudding and pie. Remaining true to Texas tradition, Hays County Bar-B-Que cooks its meat over mesquite and post oak wood-burning pits. All meat, including brisket, turkey, chicken and pork, is dry rubbed with a distinctive seasoning blend prior to cooking to bring out natural flavors and juices.
2. Taqueria El Charro Tapatio
While Taqueria El Charro Tapatio doesn’t look like much on the outside, it’s what’s on the inside that counts. “Charro,” as it’s known to locals, is consistently ranked among the best Mexican restaurants in the area, and for good reason. The prices are reasonable, the vibe is low-key, and the food is top-notch, authentic Mexican cuisine.
Charro is family owned and operated, and you can see firsthand that they take great pride in their work. Their handmade creamy green sauce is a big hit, and you get complimentary chips and salsa while you wait. Tortillas are made fresh daily, and Charro is open for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Try the al pastor or a fajitas plate – you won’t be disappointed.
3. Blue Dahlia Bistro
If you’re looking to branch out from the usual Tex-Mex or American fare, Blue Dahlia Bistro is the place. Located just a few blocks from Charro, the Hopkins Street restaurant is the third incarnation of this Texas-based chain, with additional locations in Austin and West Lake Hills.
The menu at Blue Dahlia is authentically European, and food is prepared with sustainability in mind. Blue Dahlia chefs use local and organic ingredients whenever possible, and all food waste is composted.
Breakfast is served all day at Blue Dahlia, and the restaurant boasts an atmosphere that’s upscale without seeming pretentious. When the weather allows, seating is available in the Blue Dahlia’s private back patio. Diners are served a complimentary basket of fresh bread upon arrival, and the restaurant’s homemade lemonade is touted as the best in San Marcos.
4. 54th Street Grill & Bar
1303 Interstate 35 Frontage Road
On the opposite end of the ambiance spectrum from Blue Dahlia is 54th Street Grill & Bar. The restaurant’s fun, casual atmosphere attracts diners of all ages, including the 55+ community. Food portions at 54th Street are generous, and the menu is diverse, featuring an array of burgers and sandwiches as well as baked mac and cheese, fettuccine Alfredo and steak. As an appetizer, sample 54th Street’s famous “gringo dip,” a creamy blend of pepper jack cheese, pico de gallo and secret spices.