The Texas Hill Country is known as an outdoor-lover's paradise. Sunny days and plentiful natural areas allow ample opportunity for hiking, biking and water sports. However, while we love outdoor sports for the fun it provides, we also need the exercise thanks to an abundance of amazing regional food. Whether enjoying authentic carnitas on hand-shaped corn tortillas or haute cuisine with regionally-sourced venison, you will need a few hours on that hiking trail! But even the most steadfast health-nuts among us find it hardest to turn down the crown-jewel of the Hill Country -- dessert!
Baking is a craft, requiring equal parts science and heart. Even professionally-trained Hill Country bakers often began by learning home-spun cooking traditions in the family kitchen. One such chef is Rebecca Rather, owner of the Rather Sweet Bakery and Café in Fredericksburg, TX. Her quaint two-story café is famous for its amazing meals and pastries, handmade using mostly local, all-natural ingredients. Despite Rather's extensive pastry chef credentials, the native-Texan often cites family recipes as inspiration in her three "Pastry Queen" cookbooks. Visitors can enjoy breakfast or lunch, but as the café's name implies, unforgettable choices are the sweets. Take a seat at one of the rustic wood tables to tackle the enormous Texas Big-Hair Lemon Lime Tart with its spiky meringue topping. Celebrate regional flavors with a slice of Peach Queen Cake with Dulce de Leche Frosting, or sample a sweet or savory kolache. For the little ones, order an adorable iced Pink Pig shortbread cookie.
Though known for its scenery, easy living and beautiful town square, Blanco, TX also rewards its sweet-tooth visitors and residents with the Deutsch Apple Bakery. Homemade baked and canned products greet customers, but predictably they are most famous for their apple products. Go early as they often sell out of the famous mile-high apple pie early in the day. Cake lovers can enjoy a tender apple cake glazed with a rich praline-pecan glaze.
A drive through the Hill Country yields a number of small, unassuming cafes and bakeries. But keep an eye out for those that consistently have a line out the door, such as the down-to-earth Bluebonnet Café in Marble Falls, TX. Waiting customers often include locals, tourists, and even familiar faces seen on television and in newspapers. Though Bluebonnet Café has a delicious southern-style menu, it's garnered its reputation and multiple awards for its pies. Homemade, traditional pies like chocolate meringue, coconut cream and many others earned the cafe a place on Southern Living's list of "Top Ten Places for Pie". In fact, the pies are so popular, Bluebonnet offers a Pie Happy Hour on Mon-Fri from 3-5 pm.
The rewards for pie lovers continue in the Hill Country. Visit the Wimberley Pie Company in Wimberley, TX for pies made fresh daily. Options range from southern favorites like pecan and buttermilk pies, to lush fruit pies. The self-proclaimed "Gateway to Texas Ranch Country", also known as Kyle, TX, is home to the impossible-to-miss Texas Pie Company. Just drive down Center Street and look for the giant-sized slice of cherry pie adorning the shop's roof. An extensive menu of pies and sweets provide multiple options, but a must-try is their award-winning Almond Joy pie.
Whether you enjoy the Texas Hill Country for its style of living, the nature or all that great food, thanks to an abundance of options, residents of Hill Country property can have our cake and eat it too.