Monday, June 10, 2013

New Braunfels -- More to do than you knew

Saturday night at the Phoenix Saloon in downtown New Braunfels.

Small-town Texas ain't what it used to be.  

Take the edge-of-the-Hill-Country town of New Braunfels, for example. Time was, folks knew New Braunfels for three things:  tubing rivers, sliding at Schlitterbahn and indulging in beer, sausage and oompah music at Wurstfest.  All fun, but now there's so much more.

These days, the historic downtown district draws visitors to town.

The county courthouse, recently restored to 1894 splendor, is open for self-guided tours. Don't be surprised by the pink courtroom. 

Folks visit local merchants in the  district for antiques, art, children's wear, unique homegoods, women's finery and more.

As they have been for more than 150 years at Henne Hardware, where people find everything they didn't know they needed

Say Hi to the resident cat when you go in.

When it's time for lunch, Olive's Italian Market & Deli makes sandwiches and salads with delectable house-made mozzarella


A few blocks away, Gourmage offers some of the world's best sandwiches, along the lines of Chimay cheese with salty-sweet house-made Bacon Jam, washed down with a glass of Spanish garnacha.

Murals enliven building walls around the district. Prince Carl of Solms-Braunfels led the first band of German settlers into what became the town of New Braunfels, later returning to Germany when his fiance refused to follow him to Texas.

His story and many others are re-enacted in videos accessible via smart-phone (or computer).

A day of wandering can work up a thirst and there are plenty of places to find a cure. The house-made beer at the Faust Hotel is one good option.  Or a glass of wine at Kork Wine Bar.  

Followed by dinner at Huisatch Grille, a favorite of those who call New Braunfels home, housed in historic buildings just off the main drag.  

The Huisatch specializes in New American dishes with a Texas twist. Add in a Wine Spectator Award-winning wine list, patio seating overlooking shaded gardens and a charming encampment of specialty shops, and the Huisatch is a destination in its own right.

But the night will still be young when dinner is done; and there are multiple live-music venues just down the street. Easy walking distance. 

In fact a traveler can visit New Braunfels, park the car at the Prince Solms Inn B&B or the Faust Hotel and spend an entertaining weekend without ever having to start the engine again.
Sophie's Suite at Prince Solms Inn, rumored to occasionally host a ghost.

Among other venues, downtown holds a couple of piano bars--one for cosying and one for singalongs, a smoky pub with dirty blues, a couple of sports bars and the Phoenix Saloon.  

The Phoenix lives in a restored historic site with brick walls, old wooden floors, original tin ceiling and a long antique bar.  Live music most nights, room to dance, better than average Texas-style pub grub and about 30 taps for draft, including Blanco's Real Ale and other Texas brews. Nonsmoking so you can stay late and still feel good.

No, small-town Texas ain't what it used to be.  It's better.
Copyright 2009-2013 Kathleen Scott, for Hill Country Mysteries. Unauthorized reproduction is prohibited.


  1. seems like u had a lota was ur's mouth -watering to me ....i feel hungry after seeing it!

  2. So true. I was just sharing lunch with a friend in Gruene which is practically a NB suburb these days.

    I can't decide if it is totally exciting to see so many people inundating these small town squares or actually a little bit sad. It certainly is different to have thumping bass and motorcycle revving overlaying the ambience of what used to be sleepy little spots known only to locals.

    Gah- I'm old - it's official. I'm hand wringing over what might be seen as community saving tourism. Next thing you know I'll be shaking my fist at "you young people" and telling stories about "how in my day...". Sheesh.

  3. Hi Kathleen,
    I really like this article of yours about New Braunfels. It's ever so informative. NB is one of our favourite towns to visit. Unfortunately we haven't been there in a while. We really need to change that! I'd really like to have some good German food again at the Friesenhaus.
    Have a great weekend,


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