Alpine isn’t known for its abundance of tourist attractions, but its quality restaurants are a major draw for visitors to the Big Bend region. One of the city’s most famous eateries is the fantastic Reata Restaurant (203 N. Fifth St., 432/837-9232, www.reata.net, $8–36).
Named for the iconic ranch depicted in the classic 1956 movie “Giant” filmed in the area, this upscale cowboy cuisine with a West Texas flair even inspired a second location in Fort Worth. Start things off with a hot bowl of jalapeño cilantro soup, and proceed with any of the tantalizing menu items, from the renowned tenderloin tamales to the carne asada to the double pork chop stuffed with pears.
Not as upscale yet popular for its eclectic menu is Outback Bar & Grill (300 S. Phelps St., 432/837-5074, $6–19). Locals love the surf and turf offerings, including the grilled shrimp, chicken-fried steak, and steak tampiqueña combo, a six-ounce rib eye smothered with onions and jalapeños accompanied by a gooey cheese enchilada.
Even if you aren’t staying at the Holland Hotel, it’s well worth stopping by its fantastic German restaurant, the Edelweiss Brewery (209 W. Holland Ave., 432/837-9454, $5–15). It’s virtually required to kick things off with a homebrew and fresh-baked pretzel—the Alpine Blonde or Brewster Brew is an ideal accompaniment. Continue the Bavarian theme with a traditional schnitzel dish like the Ziguener, featuring a hand-breaded pork loin steak topped with a mild bell pepper–based “gypsy sauce.” Other noteworthy menu items include the grilled chicken sandwich with fresh avocado and the bacon jalapeño cheeseburger.
The best Tex-Mex in town is in an unassuming little house on the other side of the railroad tracks. Aptly named La Casita (1104 E. Ave. H, 432/837-2842, $4–9), this no-frills eatery focuses its efforts on flavorful food—hearty and spicy salsa, perfectly seasoned verde sauce on the chicken enchiladas, crispy jam-packed beef tacos, and satisfying chicken quesadillas.
Not quite as inspiring yet still good for a Tex-Mex fix is Alexander’s Tex-Mex Grill & Cantina (106 E. Holland Ave., 432/837-5668, $4–10). You’ll find all the traditional favorites here, from loaded nachos to cheese enchiladas to beef burritos.
A great way to start the day is with a huge breakfast taco at the tiny Alicia’s Burrito Place (708 E. Ave. G, 432/837-2802, $3–6). Stuff it full of eggs, potatoes, cheese, bacon, and veggies before heading out for a hike or back to your room for a nap.
An ideal place to accompany the crisp mountain morning air is the Bread & Breakfast Bakery Cafe (113 W. Holland Ave., 432/837-9424, closed Mon.). Not surprisingly, pastries and coffee are the main draws here, but they’re extra tasty in a quaint location like this. The most popular item by far are the cinnamon rolls, but it’s worth saving some room for a fresh donut or three.
Finally, La Trattoria (901 E. Holland Ave., 432/837-2200, www.latrattoriacafe.com, $2–12), started out as a modest espresso bar, but has evolved into a legitimate restaurant (after 11 a.m.). In the morning, it retains its humble roots as the town’s best coffee shop, with an impressive selection of quality java and fresh pastries offering the right combination of fuel to get you through your most challenging endeavors.
© Andy Rhodes from Moon Texas, 6th Edition