Visiting Marfa, Texas
In way far west Texas, there’s Marfa: a very tiny town of 1900 or so people. It’s a pretty isolated desert town with an elevation of 4680 feet above sea level. Marfa, Texas is where the stars shine brighter than you’ve ever seen and you’ll even see tumbleweeds, actually tumbling across the road.
Marfa might be isolated, but they’re isolated in one of the most beautiful areas of Texas: West Texas, just steps away from Big Bend National Park. Don’t worry about the town being too busy, unless you come during a festival or event. Just make sure you come prepared: the nearest Wal-Mart is 78 miles away but there is a Family Dollar in town that will fill general needs.
When it comes to restaurants and bars, they have weird hours, or like we learned, they will close randomly. Be patient, open-minded, and kind and remember there’s a 24/7 convenience store in town should you be caught hungry with nothing open.
I have to point out most of the restaurants aren’t open during the week. You’ll want to plan around a weekend for your trip to Marfa, especially if you’re looking to eat some good local food.
Additionally, the prices are a little high, especially for drinks, and especially for out-of-towners, but the peace and great conversation with locals is worth paying a little more.
Driving to Marfa
The drive to Marfa is long, quiet, and mesmerizing. Coming from Austin, after you drive through Fredricksburg, that’s pretty much it for about four hours. You’ll go from flat, rolling hills that are either spotted with massive wind turbines or the stereotypical oil drills/pumps to climbing up into the beautiful Big Bend mountains with open fields of tall, yellow grass.
Don’t toy with your gas levels driving to Marfa. Make sure you keep at least 1/2 tank whenever you can, especially while driving between Fredricksburg and Alpine. No need for spare gas tanks or anything, just be cautious! Also, be cautious for jack rabbits while you’re traveling to Marfa, they pop out of everywhere, even more so at night.
You’ll have phone service in Fredricksburg, Alpine, and Marfa. It’s when you’re in between those towns, especially as you start to enter the more mountainous area and climb higher, that cell phone service will be spotty.
There’s really not much to stop and see, or visit, or eat, and not even a single brewery until Big Bend Brewing. So just take that as time to sit back, relax and enjoy the quiet peacefulness of West Texas on the drive to Marfa.
Marfa: Where to Eat and Drink
Driving out to Marfa (from east Texas), Alpine is the sightly-bigger town that’s right before Marfa. It’s also the only brewery for hundreds of miles and thank goodness they’re brewing all styles of delicious beer. But the view… The view is one of the most beautiful I’ve ever seen. And not just for a brewery, but overall!
The people too, they were all were so nice and so welcoming. I felt like I had walked into my hometown brewery and all my friends were there waiting for me.
Our dog, Landon had a great time playing with the neighboring farm dog. He’s the cutest little puppy and he lives over the hill, but Big Bend Brewing in West Texas is his favorite place to visit, and he’s certainly not the only one!
For Big Bend to be so far out in West Texas, I must say they do a phenomenal job of distributing. I was no stranger to their Tejas craft brews, but having them fresh from the source was just so much better.
Boyz2Men & Hombres WEBSITE
God, this place was, well, just funky! Pretty great food, high prices for non-locals though, but in Marfa you don’t have many choices. We ate at Hombres but Boyz2Men, it’s on the same lot, is a burger and taco food trailer that’s usually open for breakfast and lunch on the weekends.
The food trailer also pretty vegan friendly from what I hear. Boyz2Men weren’t open at all while we were there so they might be closed during the low season, hard to tell. 🙂
The restaurant staff at Hombres were pretty cool but learn from my experience, and don’t take any jokes or sass personal! Hombres was open on a Sunday late-ish afternoon, when no one else was, so we wondered in, unknowing.
Hombres doesn’t have much of an online presence you could say, but they were right in town across from Planet Marfa. Please don’t expect anything fancy, whatsoever, but know that doesn’t have any effect on these ‘bad hombres” delicious eats!
Food Shark WEBSITE
Well, we were looking for a place to grab lunch when we first arrived to Marfa right before lunch. Luck had it that I found a lunch-only food truck with Mediterranean food, and it was one of the places Beyoncé visited during her time in Marfa. So I had to stop.
It was pretty fun deciding where to sit, there was plenty of funky, cool seating. There were school desks, old benches, a large covered porch, and even a vintage bus with tables!
We came at the right time too because that place got pretty busy as the afternoon went on. The orders take awhile to come out, but chill- the wait is worth it! Plus, there’s a pretty cool gem/rock store next door that you can check out.
We both ordered lamb kabob platter and it came with all the proper Greek sides: a small Greek salad, toasted pita, hummus, and some olives and such. It was so delicious, I could have had it both days, but they’re closed Sundays! They’re pretty much open Wednesday through Saturday during lunch, so you better carve out some time for Food Shark!
Jett’s Grill WEBSITE
Inside The Hotel Paisano, Jett’s Grill is serving up breakfast, late lunch, drinks, and dinner in the heart of ‘downtown’ Marfa. It’s a beautiful spot, with a fountain and outside terrace that is absolutely charming! It’s one of the places you can come for drinks in the evening, and expect to have a nicer dinner here.
Lost Horse Saloon WEBSITE
This bar is Marfa’s dive bar and local watering hole. It looks scary, but don’t worry, the people inside are friendly and tons of fun. Dogs are welcomed here, and you’ll probably end up letting them off the leash in the saloon’s fenced-in backyard. Don’t expect a grand beer selection, just the essentials.
Marfa Burrito WEBSITE
Marfa Burrito is the place for where to eat breakfast in Marfa, Tx! Unfortunately it was closed the day we went, it was Sunday but Marfa places work on their own time. If you go, definitely stop here and get one of their massive burritos. They’re more of a breakfast or lunch spot, so come early!
Pizza Foundation WEBSITE
I’m so happy Marfa has Pizza Foundation. They’re open from lunch to evening, Friday through Sunday and the family-run business knows how to make a mean thin crust pizza. The people behind Pizza Foundation are so nice and happy to have you, which shouldn’t be taken for granted here. They even have wine and cold beer. Plus, they accept credit cards, which is unusual in Marfa where most places are cash only.
The only downside is the pizza comes in one size only: large. I feel bad saying it’s a downside, cause I don’t think that’s necessarily a bad thing, right?
Planet Marfa WEBSITE
UGH I so badly wanted to check out Marfa’s beer garden with a giant tee-pee and school bus on the patio, but they’re only open from ‘spring break’ to Thanksgiving. We missed out on visiting but we got a peek of the top of the tee-pee, and I heard from the reviews that inside they’ve dug out the ground so you site low and stay cool in the summer.
There’s also tons of other fun to explore at Planet Marfa, so don’t skip out if you visit Marfa in-season! PS: Order the nachos here, I’ve only heard great things.
squeeze marfa WEBSITE
Tucked away under a big tree across from the peach-colored courthouse is one of Marfa’s best coffee shops. squeeze marfa is a cute little cafe with sandwiches, lattes, and great smoothies. They’re open early and until 3pm everyday save Monday. The outside area is cool and shaded and totally dog-friendly.
Food wise, there is quite a range from vegetarian soups and salads to delicious paninis. squeeze’s fruit smoothies are so fresh and just what you need to get ready for a day out exploring West Texas.
Coffee fans will love squeeze, and Austinites, you’ll be excited to hear these guys use Austin’s own Third Coast Coffee. My vanilla latte from here was a little piece of home all the way in Marfa, Texas.
The Capri WEBSITE
This is one bar and restaurant in Marfa, Texas that feels like a desert oasis. There’s a big event hall attached to a beautiful bar with the most eye-catching decorations. The drinks are high class and high-quality. We didn’t order any food, but I so wish he hadn’t just filled up on Food Shark.
There seemed to be a very popular dish with queso in a thin cast iron skillet and the presentation was beautiful. The queso wasn’t the only dish served with a stunning presentation, all the other dishes were just as magnificent, and the cocktails too!
We ordered a whiskey ginger and a hibiscus margarita for myself. The margarita was the brightest reddish-pink and it looked beautiful next to their long ‘pool’ in the patio area. Besides the pool, there were hammocks, several fire pits, large trees giving plenty of shade, and vine-cover pergolas.
Not only was this a great place to grab a drink in Marfa during the afternoon, but it’s a great restaurant for a nice dinner or some late-night drinks while cuddling up near a bonfire.
Places to Stay in Marfa
Thunderbird Hotel WEBSITE
We stay at the Thunderbird Hotel in Marfa and it was pretty nice. The rooms were very ‘minimal’ but I totally enjoyed it. They’re totally dog-friendly and there’s a nice fenced-in courtyard for him to run around a bit. Everybody staying at the hotel was super friendly too!
You’re right next to the train tracks, but if the sound bothers you, the hotel rooms come standard with ear plugs. Plus, Thunderbird Hotel has the room stocked up on all the fancy toiletries and even hip, hand-stamped postcards to send back home.
When we went, we had to check in across the street at The Capri bar, and it wasn’t the most pleasant experience. Especially since I knew bikes were included with our stay, but I didn’t want to bother the bartender to ask him something again.
Normally there’s an office, but I’m not sure why it was closed! Everything else was lovely though.
El Cosmico WEBSITE
El Cosmico is an 18-acre tent, trailer, yurt and teepee hotel/campground in Marfa, TX, and it’s where all the coolest kids stay. This bohemian, desert campground is a short walk from Marfa’s art galleries, restaurants, and a mile from the Marfa lights.
Bring plenty of blankets, you should regardless but especially if you’re staying here. The desert is freezing cold at night! Dog-friendly, even though Google says it isn’t.
Hotel Saint George WEBSITE
A modern hotel in a historic footprint, the Hotel Saint George is an integral part of the thriving Marfa tourism scene.
With its two restaurants, bar/lounge, 5,600-square foot events space and 55 rooms and suites – all in the heart of downtown Marfa – Hotel Saint George is a hub of activity for both visitors and natives alike.
The Hotel Paisano WEBSITE
If you’re looking for a more elegant, classy stay in Marfa, grab a room at The Hotel Paisano. It’s in an elegant building dating from the 1930s and has a restaurant and bar on-site.
This warm Marfa, Tx hotel is right in town and just a 1.1 mile from the Chinati Foundation art museum and 9.3 miles from the Marfa Lights viewing center.