Strings of multicolored lights twinkle above Mi Casa Tamales' three spacious acres, which are home to an intimate dining room, a cantina, a breezy, tree-shaded patio, and a kid-friendly play area. Known for their Texas-sized tamales that weigh more than 3 pounds per dozen, Mi Casa's chefs ably combine Texan and Mexican cuisines into appetizing dishes accented with house-made sauces including avocado salsa, cowboy stew, and tomatillo sauce. Music floats on the air during warm summer nights, serenading diners with guitars, piano, and tacos thumped rhythmically on drumheads.
Boo Dawg’s Backyard was designed by owner Mike Buie to be a laid-back hangout for friends and family. But that comes second to its most important assets: the kitchen’s mouthwatering burgers and steaks. The menu stars grilled and seared burgers and hand-cut aged steaks, with fresh seafood, sandwiches, and kids’ items filling out the chalkboard menu hanging above the ordering counter. Live music several times a week entertains diners as they sup at wooden tables in the warehouselike restaurant, whose corrugated and wood-paneled walls show off mounted buck heads and rustic artwork. A spacious outdoor patio⎯complete with shade for warm months and electric heaters to set perms in winter⎯offers the chance to catch a breeze with a burger in hand.
Near the idyllic balconied homes and 19th-century architecture of the Hill Country town of Boerne, Smittyville General Store exudes its own old-fashioned charm with tasty deli lunches, stunning pastoral scenery, and a bustling jewelry and housewares market. Past the open-air porch of the store's Old West–style façade, a treasure trove of freshly brewed coffee, piping-hot baked goods, and chicken-salad sandwiches headlines the food at Smitty's Lunch Box Cafe. The shop also stocks a selection of souvenirs and home accents, and a sun-filled garden building—a tree-framed pavilion—evokes a small-town amiability from bygone days when neighbors said "howdy" to each other and horses doffed their caps to passersby.
More than 40 years ago, Charlie and Mary Garcia founded El Chaparral Mexican Restaurant to share their culinary heritage with the local community. Though the business has now been passed down to the next generation of the family, the restaurant adheres to the made-fresh recipes of its early days, delighting diners with hearty enchiladas, fresh seafood dishes, and its signature bean soup.
Each year, as February draws to a close, the energy in Bulverde, Texas builds towards one thing: the opening of rodeo season. Tejas Rodeo Company kicks off the festivities in style, hosting celebrations of colts, cowboys, and cattle every Saturday night. There, horses pull chuck wagons, ranchers lasso longhorns, and brave souls ride bulls to the delight of the crowd, who can emulate their heroes on a mechanical bull. Fans can even keep track of the rodeo rankings and return each week to cheer on their favorites in tie downs and barrel races. And after the last cowboy tips his hat to the crowd every night, live musicians steal the spotlight with country music that's capable of luring any age to the dance floor.
Few things complement that rodeo spirit like a steak, and Tejas' Steakhouse and Saloon has enough steak to act as currency should the dollar fail. Chefs source premium Akaushi beef from Beeman Ranch, cut it into two-ounce medallions, and season it with a signature rub before searing it to order. And those cuts of meat look right at home between the restaurant's walls. Wood paneling brims with saddles, chaps, pistols, and other authentic cowboy artifacts. The oldest item there? "Yellow Boy," a Winchester rifle made in 1870, the same year the color yellow was invented.
The team at Big Apple Bagels builds chewy, ring-shaped bread bites from scratch and wakes palates with steaming cups of Brewster's coffee. The menu teems with eats inspired by New York City deli fare, such as bagel-based club sandwiches and nearly a dozen styles of cream cheese—including three whipped varieties and one milked directly from a somersaulting cow. Bagel flavors range from plain and sesame, while swiss melts warm palates with gooey layers of cheese. Gourmet muffins introduce mouths to fluffy, cake-like texture kept moist—yet low in cholesterol—with soybean oil.