What’s more quintessentially Texas than rolling hills, grazing Longhorns and small town charm, set against an idyllic, pastoral backdrop?
While the small towns southeast of Austin nestled along the Colorado River–notably Smithville, La Grange and Round Top–are not considered part of Texas Hill Country, you only have to spend one afternoon basking in the river views and unrivaled hospitality to realize this region is nothing short of magical.
The kicker is that, even in the middle of the country where the air is clean and phone service spotty, you can find amazing restaurants that rival what you’re used to in our capital city. Just be sure to call ahead and confirm open times before you head out. Counter-intuitive closure dates and funky schedules are standard in rural areas. Before you hop in the car, double-check that your destination is indeed ready to receive you!
Honey’s Pizza (Smithville, TX)
The new kid on the block, Honey’s Pizza is the brainchild of Steve and Amy Simmons, owners of Austin-based Amy’s Ice Creams and Phil’s Icehouse. After eight years of living in Smithville, it occurred to the couple to share their ice cream love with the denizens of this adorable small town.
Artisan, wood-fired pizzas are served in a chic, thoughtfully-curated restaurant within the brick walls of this vintage 20th century building. Come ready to treat yourself to a craft cocktail and choose from a seasonal menu, and don’t miss out on dessert! A tiny Amy’s Ice Creams stand situated in the outdoor eating space is the perfect place to cap your evening, or stop by on your way to boutique shopping.
109 NE 2nd St., Smithville, TX 78957
Sunday-Thursday, 11 a.m.-9 p.m. | Friday -Saturday, 11 a.m.-10 p.m.
Bodega Wine Market (La Grange, TX)
This adorable wine shop in the heart of La Grange is further proof you don’t have to live in Central Austin to enjoy tastefully-curated wines, craft beer, cheese plates, sandwiches and soups. Stop into Bodega Wine Market for a bottle on your way to your bed and breakfast, or stay to enjoy a decadent evening meal with your wine.
Want to make a day of it? Check out our day trip guide to La Grange, TX.
201 West Travis St., La Grange, TX 78945
Monday-Thursday, 10:30 a.m.-6 p.m. | Friday-Saturday, 10:30 a.m.-10 p.m.
Royers Pie Haven (Round Top, TX)
This Round Top crowd favorite is my go-to destination after scouring for antiques or enjoying a play at Shakespeare at Winedale, but it’s also a destination in itself. Come for the pie, but check out Royers’ down-home southern menu that will fill your belly with Texas comfort food classics.
Check out our previous coverage of Royers Pie Haven for more about this unique restaurant.
190 Henkel Circle, Round Top, TX 78954
Wednesday, 11 a.m.-3 p.m. | Thursday-Saturday, 11 a.m.-9 p.m. | Sunday, 12-3 p.m.
The Garden Co. (Schulenburg, TX)
I dare you to try not to get excited as you pull up to The Garden Co. Sprawling agave and giant pots of succulents dot the patio, and the glowing lights from inside a tasteful white and black house beckon you to come in and sit awhile.
Not only does this cafe serve up an amazing seasonal lunch and dinner menu, but it also boasts a gorgeous garden shop and marketplace. I love sitting within the walls of The Garden Co. for the scenery alone. I am almost certain I would still make the trip even if the food was hit and miss. Luckily, this is not the case.
Fresh fish and local meat options like seared duck and rack of lamb are tempting, but if you’re in the mood for a decadent salad or vegetable-based dinner, The Garden Co. won’t let you down. Towering piles of mixed green, tender braised greens threaten to steal the show from center of the plate proteins. I, for one, am not complaining.
217 Kessler Schulenburg, TX 78956
Monday-Saturday, 11 a.m.-3 p.m. | Thursday-Saturday 5 p.m.-9 p.m.
@kristinmleigh wants to know:
What is your favorite restaurant or bar southeast of Austin?