The 16 Best Restaurants And Bars In Texas Hill Country
Nestled between cities like Austin and San Antonio, two foodie meccas in their own right, the Texas Hill Country is a sprawling swath of pastoral paradise that’s low-key one of the most immersive and singular dining destinations in the U.S. Marked by rolling hills, mesquite-filled forests, and bucolic farmland across quaint towns like Dripping Springs, Driftwood, and Lockhart, it’s a region as fertile as it is beautiful and as savorous as it is scenic, filled with restaurants, bars, breweries, and bakeries that showcase heritage, history, and terroir.
The Texas Hill Country is rightfully renowned as a barbecue bastion, home to quintessential Texas-style ‘cue and some of the best in the nation. It’s also known for its burgeoning wine country and wine bars and its distinct distilleries and breweries anchored on vast plots of forested land. Conveniently close to two of Texas’ biggest cities and yet agrarian enough to feel worlds away, a hungry romp through the Hill Country makes for one of the most epic food-centric road trips. From chef-driven showcases to the first sotol distillery in the U.S., here are 16 of the best places to eat and drink in the Texas Hill Country.
Tillie’s in Dripping Springs
Nestled on a lush ranch in Dripping Springs, at a farmland wedding venue called Camp Lucy, it doesn’t get much more picture-perfect than Tillie’s. Billed as "American Nouveau" cuisine, with all-day menus courtesy of chef Andy Knudson, the restaurant serves seasonal, locally driven dishes as beautiful as the soaring, cathedral-like dining room.
Considering its emphasis on seasonality, the menus change on a whim, exhibiting the very best — and freshest — in Texas terroir. Served inside an ornate, lofty dining room lined with timber columns and saintly statuettes, offerings include spicy Brussels sprouts with chili jam, pumpkin ravioli with lemon gremolata, grilled amberjack with Sri Lankan curry, and Texas pecan sundaes with whiskey caramel. This being wine country, there’s a robust wine list with plenty of Lone Star State representation, along with intricate cocktails made from local spirits.
Jester King Brewery in Austin
With its gargantuan parking lot and roving walkways past barns and through the woods, this Hill Country’s quintessential brewery looks more like a theme park than a beer bar — which is precisely what makes Jester King Brewery so special. Utterly immersive and enchanting, perched on the hilly nether regions of Austin, this colossal property boasts numerous beer-centric bars, a food truck, a pizza-focused kitchen, a goat barn, a hiking trail through the forest, and ample acres of fruitful farmland.
Altogether, the property boasts 165 acres of scenic splendor, filled with tons of picnic tables and space for groups, families, and beer connoisseurs. Adamant about using ingredients grown on its own farm, Jester King features rigorously seasonal beverages, like a farmhouse ale brewed with smoked malt and juniper and an imperial stout made with Hill Country well water and Texas pale malt. The food follows suit, with kale pesto pizzas with pickled radishes and cauliflower and rotating specials like ramen, biscuit sandwiches, and funfetti cake. The latest addition to the property is a permanently parked food truck serving crowd-pleasers like pulled pork sandwiches, smash burgers, soft pretzels, and black bean chili fries.
Abby Jane Bakeshop in Dripping Springs
The early bird catches the whoopie pie at Abby Jane Bakeshop, a wildly popular bakery and cafe perched on the edge of Treaty Oak Distillery in Dripping Springs’ farmland. The pint-sized bakeshop, barely a year old, has amassed such a following that lines routinely wind out the door, filled with people hankering for baker Abby Love’s ever-changing miscellany of sweets and bread.
Emphasizing items baked with heritage grains grown in Texas and milled on-site at Barton Springs Mill, confections don’t get more Hill Country than this. Bread and pastries rotate steadily, ensuring each visit offers something fresh and new, from seeded sourdough and pumpernickel to fluffy cornbread and challah. The bakery is also revered for its frosted layer cakes and a dizzying array of breakfast sandwiches, quiche, whoopie pies, Texas pecan bars, croissants, and much more.
Treaty Oak Distilling in Dripping Springs
A little slice of bourbon country in the Hill Country, Treaty Oak Distilling is a veritable wonderland of brown liquor, cocktails, and Texas barbecue. Located on a 28-acre ranch in Dripping Springs and lined with live oak trees, barns, barrel-aging rooms, and folksy live music stages, the distillery makes the most of its picturesque and historic property by filling its farm buildings with cocktail bars, cozy couches amidst bourbon barrels, and dining tables brimming with brisket.
Guests can mosey around the property and pick their nook of choice, depending on the vibe they’re looking for. The Rickhouse bar is a good stopover for a barrel-aged Old Fashioned, while picnic tables outside provide prime seating in front of the live music stage. Around the corner is Alice’s Restaurant, featuring Texas-style barbecue, while the Mercantile offers spirit tastings and boozy ephemera.
Crêpe Crazy in Dripping Springs
It’s not just the ingredients and fillings that make Crêpe Crazy such a special place to fuel up for a day in the Hill Country. Owned by a hearing-impaired couple (via Texas Highways) who employ a dexterous crew of hearing-impaired crêpe-makers, this adorable cottage-like café is as heartwarming and passionate as it is delicious. Now with additional locations in Austin proper and Baltimore, the original Dripping Springs locale is still a popular stopover for sweet and savory crêpes made with the finest ingredients and the utmost care.
"Point and ye shall receive," reads the menu, encouraging customers to silently select their crêpe of choice. And with so many options, there’s no shortage of selections. Breakfast versions come folded with lox and eggs or chorizo and black beans, while more savory fare includes Granny Smith apples and Brie, chicken with basil pesto, and turkey with avocado. For something sweet, delicate crêpe layers enrobe the likes of dulce de leche, peanut butter with bananas and honey, and a s’mores variation with Nutella, marshmallows, crumbled graham crackers, and chocolate.
Deep Eddy Vodka Tasting Room in Dripping Springs
While much of the Texas Hill Country is revered for its barbecue, wineries, and scenic breweries, vodka has its own stronghold in the form of Deep Eddy Vodka. One of the most prolific and beloved vodka brands in the country calls Dripping Springs home, where the distillery headquarters also sports a sleek tasting room and fun outdoor area equipped with picnic tables and lawn games.
Ever the innovator responsible for popular flavored vodkas like sweet tea, grapefruit, and lemon, all of which can be sampled straight-up or as a cocktail, the distillery is constantly launching new flavors (via The Drinks Report) and items like ready-to-drink vodka sodas (via BevNET). On-site, Deep Eddy’s tasting room is a day drinking haven for palomas, punch, mojitos, and more. Tasting flights are also available, along with chopped beef sandwiches and pulled pork — because this is still Texas, lest you forget.
Desert Door in Driftwood
In Mexico, sotol is as widely consumed and revered as any agave-based spirit, like tequila and mezcal, but in the U.S., it’s still a comparatively rare breed. While the sotol plant, native to the Chihuahuan Desert, may have a similar look to agave, it’s very much its own genus — with an anise-like flavor distinctly its own. The spirit is on full display at Desert Door, the first sotol distillery in the U.S. to produce this Mexican mainstay and spotlight through flights and cocktails.
The distillery itself is gorgeous and twee, with a colorful and artful interior reminiscent of a scene from a Wes Anderson movie, while an expansive outdoor area provides plenty of shaded tables and a stage for live music. To drink, Desert Door offers tastings and flights of its sotols, along with mixed drinks like sangria, sotol cider, palomas, margaritas, and originals like The Leaf Cutter, which blends sotol with mint, cucumber, egg white, lemon juice, honey, and elderflower liqueur.
Lo Salvaje in Driftwood
Austin is well-known for its thriving food truck culture (via Visit Austin), but the concept of chef-driven mobile kitchens doesn’t stop at the city border. One of the latest and greatest food trucks to descend upon the metropolitan area can be found anchored outside Desert Door in Driftwood, where a pedigreed Austin chef puts his stamp on wild game at Lo Salvaje.
The stylish truck comes courtesy of Josh Crumpton and Jesse Griffiths, the latter being the chef of acclaimed Austin restaurant Dai Due (via Eater Austin). Along with head chef Stephanie Stackhouse, they’ve compiled a menu that offers wild riffs on Americana and Mexican comfort foods, like duck tinga quesadillas, wild boar Frito pie, antelope picadillo tacos, fried quail sandwiches, and hamburgers made with antelope and bacon patties. Pair it with a sotol cocktail from Desert Door, find a seat on the patio, and settle in for a food truck experience like no other.
The Salt Lick BBQ in Driftwood
The Texas Hill Country is prime terrain for some of the country’s most iconic and enduring barbecue institutions — the kinds of vast, timeworn haunts that transcend generations and stoke the same flames that have been smoking meats for decades. Chief among said institutions is The Salt Lick BBQ, a sprawling restaurant and bar complex on the edge of a winery in Driftwood, where the Roberts family has smoked meat over the same pit since 1967.
Shaded by ancient oak trees and lined with picnic tables indoors and out, The Salt Lick remains a coveted barbecue mecca, known for its hulking portions and campground-like atmosphere. Plates come loaded with fork-tender brisket, smoked turkey, pulled pork, and dinosaur-sized bison ribs, while burly sandwiches and "Texas-sized" desserts like cobbler and pecan pie round out the offerings. There’s a small wine and beer cabin out back where customers can order drinks, including several wines produced by The Salt Lick.
Old Pal Bar in Lockhart
As evidenced by the omnipresent aroma of smoked meat billowing through the air, the endearingly dusty town of Lockhart is primarily known for barbecue. This is, after all, the barbecue capital of Texas (via Lockhart Texas). But lately, movers and shakers from Austin have brought their own brand of hospitality to town, extending its appeal beyond brisket to include fried chicken and jojos at places like Old Pal Bar.
Comparatively modern and hip, this self-described Texas tavern hails from an owner of Austin’s popular Nickel City (via Eater Austin), offering a unique menu specializing in non-barbecue fare like fried chicken, fried pickles, pimento cheese, biscuits, elote, and jojos, which are seasoned potato wedges, a delicacy in the Pacific Northwest that’s breaded and fried a la chicken (via The Seattle Times). To drink, there’s ice-cold beer aplenty, along with whiskey cocktails, agave-based drinks, and a special frozen option made with bourbon, Montenegro amaro, Dr. Pepper, and cream.
The Texas Pie Company in Kyle
With the Hill Country prime turf for Texas pecans, what better way to showcase the crop than with pie? That’s the emphasis at The Texas Pie Company, a homey diner-like staple in Kyle, where chef and baker Julie Albertson continues her family legacy of pie-baking, utilizing recipes handed down by her grandmother. Indeed, the all-day restaurant and bakery feel like dining in a grandmotherly kitchen lined with tchotchke and family photos.
The menu is just as comforting. In addition to a broad selection of savory fare, like casseroles, quiche, and sandwiches, lunchtime options include daily specials like king ranch chicken, meatloaf, and chicken pot pie. But the sweet pies take top billing. Year-round requisites include Southern pecan, lemon chess, buttermilk, chocolate fudge, and peanut butter mousse, doled out in deep-dish portions. Cheesecakes, lemon bars, brownies, and cookies round out the confections.
Kreuz Market in Lockhart
In the meat mecca that is Lockhart, one hallowed institution reigns supreme. Kreuz Market has roots in the barbecue-centric town that dates back to 1875, when Jesse Swearingen started a meat market selling pork and beef. In 1900, Charles Kreuz Sr. took over and gave the business its current name. It remained in the family for decades before being sold to the Schmidt family and relocated to a bigger location in 1999. While the spot is new, the same hot coals used to smoke meat for generations remained the same, with pitmaster Roy Perez going so far as to drag the coals up the road.
Today, Kreuz Market still looms as one of the foremost barbecue staples in Texas. Housed in a barn-sized building, customers queue up to order smoked meats like spare ribs, brisket, pit ham, and sausage, which are all heaped onto paper-lined trays with sides like potato salad, coleslaw, poblano cream corn, and green beans. Served without utensils, it’s a primal feast befitting a Texas barbecue institution that’s withstood the test of time.
Little Trouble in Lockhart
A distinct dining and drinking destination in Lockhart, Little Trouble is a subterranean watering hole in a stone-clad basement that looks more like a hipster catacomb than your typical rural bar. Outfitted with quirky taxidermy and a smattering of dark nooks and crannies throughout the dungeon-like space, the bar continues to surprise with its deep and varied drink list and a food menu that goes well beyond the standard barbecue offerings for this quaint town.
To drink, the bar offers a handful of cheap beers and a variety of interesting wines and cocktails, both classic and original — try the zesty Armadillo Sour made with tequila, Amaretto, fresh lime juice, and orange. The food menu is even more unique, with atypical snacks like avocado shrimp dip and chicken-fried mushrooms. Still hungry? Heftier portions include grilled rib-eye steaks with sesame caramel and mesquite-roasted miso salmon.
Lost Draw in Fredericksburg and Johnson City
In towns like Fredericksburg and Johnson City, Texas wine country is as vibrant and bountiful as anything in Napa or Sonoma. And of all the myriad wine bars and tasting rooms dotted throughout this vineyard-lined region, Lost Draw stands out for its rustic-chic decor, tree-lined patios, and, of course, top-tier vino.
With locations in both Fredericksburg and Johnson City, this cellar is a family-run operation that makes wines from its own vineyards, pouring it out for oenophiles since opening its original Fredericksburg tasting room in 2014. The Johnson City tasting room followed in 2022. In Fredericksburg, guests can purchase bottles of Texas wine or experience a tasting or food and wine pairing. The other location offers 45-minute tastings of entirely Texas-produced varietals, like Petite Sirah, Mourvèdre, Tannat, rosé, and Roussanne.
Der Lindenbaum in Fredericksburg
Since German settlers founded the town in 1846 (via Fredericksburg), the charming Hill Country haven of Fredericksburg has been a beacon of Bavarian and German architecture, history, and heritage. This includes food, as evidenced by the timeless legacy of the town’s resident German fixture, Der Lindenbaum.
The longstanding German restaurant, marked by its German flag billowing out front, is housed in an adorable old limestone building that dates back to the town’s founding. With the look and feel of a homey B&B, the dining room is the ideal spot to cozy up to Eastern European specialties like schnitzel and bratwurst, along with more esoteric recipes like schweinekotelett (pork chops in mustard sauce), curry-huhn (curried chicken), and a sausage sampler called bürgermeisterplatte. It’s all accented with a lineup of German and Texas wines.
The Leaning Pear in Wimberley
A true, full-fledged celebration of the Texas Hill Country in all its natural beauty and flavor, The Leaning Pear is an ode to the fertile region and its bucolic tapestry of trees and ingredients. Courtesy of seasoned hospitality pros Rachel and Matthew Buchanan, a pair of Texans who moved back home following stints in Italy and New York, their restaurant is a love letter to the countryside, both in terms of its locally sourced menus and its picturesque location, on a wooded bluff overlooking Cypress Creek.
Open for brunch, lunch, and dinner, menus rotate steadily and seasonally, putting the spotlight on local and sustainable ingredients as much as possible. At any given time, options could include fried Brussels sprouts with Thai chile-lime vinaigrette, fried chicken sandwiches with pimento cheese and Alabama white sauce, wood-fired pizzas strewn with artichokes and housemade Italian sausage, and meatloaf with blue cheese salsa cruda. Paired with a crisp beer or wine, it’s all best savored on the sprawling and idyllic patio.