West Texas is a really unique and wonderful place. It’s hard to describe the culture–kind of artsy hippie meets the Wild West–and the physical setting is otherworldly. On our big trip two years ago, we stayed a few days in Fort Davis and took short jaunts to Marfa and Big Bend National Park, spending just a few hours in Alpine (mostly at Big Bend Brewery) one afternoon. We knew we’d stay in Alpine our next time through: it has more going on that Ft Davis, is closer to Big Bend than Ft Davis or Marfa, and we were annoyed with Marfa and got only good vibes from Alpine. It did not disappoint; I’m writing this from the last stop on our trip and Alpine ranks as one of my very favorite towns on this loop, and maybe for all Airstream-time.
We stayed at Lost Alaskan RV Park, a cute and well-located park, and we liked it there despite our sour neighbor (a campground rarity in our experience!). It was a short drive and safe bike or run into town.
Our favorite food in Alpine came from food trucks, one of which is an Airstream!
The beertenders at Big Bend Brewery said FishCat Cafe, the aforementioned Airstream food truck serving interesting Japanese dishes, has the best food in Alpine. By the time we’d finished our beers and drove over there they were sold out of everything but the sesame noodles, and based on the spicy deliciousness of the noodles, we suspect FishCat does indeed have the best food in Alpine. They’re only open weekends, and we arrived on Sunday, so sadly we didn’t get a chance to try anything else.
We stumbled upon our second favorite food truck, G-ma’s, when we were driving in search of breakfast. G-ma makes killer meaty or vegetarian breakfast burritos (along with non-breakfast items) with cheery conversation, and we liked them and her so much we went back the next morning for breakfast to go as we took the Airstream to our next destination.
Biking around town, we needed a snack and stopped at La Calavera for a couple yummy tacos in their spacious and comfortable yard. It’s a more permanent food truck, but still counts as a food truck. A food trailer, maybe? The tacos were fantastic.
Our last night in town we went to the supposed nicest restaurant in town, Reata. Our food–a big salmon salad for me and carne asada for J–was tasty, but the atmosphere was a bit off. The lights were too bright or something, and the beer list was sad. It was still a good experience overall.
We wanted to eat at Saddle Club, on our to-do list from last time in town when we got tips from new friends at the brewery, but unfortunately they were closed the entire time we were in Alpine. We also considered dinner at the grand old Holland Hotel, but chose Reata instead. Hopefully we can go to both next time!
Of course our first drinking stop in Alpine was Big Bend Brewery, where we sat at a picnic table with Bugsy and enjoyed the cool (big, no-frills taproom full of people) and cold (wind was killing us) environment, with delicious beer.
Harry’s Tinaja is a must-visit if you love dive bars like we do. We went twice for cheap beer and football and felt welcomed by the friendly regulars. You can take your own food and that’s where we devoured our FishCat noodles.
It’s worth the 30 mile drive over to Marathon to stroll through the lovely grounds at the historic Gage Hotel and have a cocktail or Big Bend beer at their White Buffalo Bar. Keep your eyes peeled on the highway for the roadside art installation Marathon Target, a fun alternative to Prada Marfa.
Coffee is almost as important as alcohol in our travels, and Cedar Coffee & Supply caffeinated and internetted us in a sunny, big city-feeling cafe.
Downtown Alpine is tiny and easy to cover on foot, and the best way to get to know the town is to pick up an architecture tour pamphlet from the Alpine visitor center with two tours: one for walking or biking, and a longer driving tour.
For a good run starting at the campground head to Sul Ross University and try to find the desk on Hancock Hill. It sounds so simple, but Bugsy and I couldn’t find it. We still enjoyed the view over town… but I really wanted to find that desk!
The best exploring you can do from Alpine is to go to Big Bend National Park, which is our next post and the highlight of our month-plus trip. Stay tuned for details as I attempt to narrow down the number of photos to a manageable size.