We are huge fans of Texas Hill Country. We try to make a trip out every year preferably in the summer. Give me the warm summer sun, the breeze off the river or lake with a faint hint of suntan lotion and I’m a happy girl. Flip flops, sunroofs open, country road exploring that’s my kind of summer.
We like to travel to places that aren’t as popular. My husband is a foodie and I love small towns with a vintage feel. It was easy for us to fall in love with Gruene.
In 1845 a German immigrant, Ernest Gruene, and his family tried to buy land in Nee Braunfels but land was scarce, so he ventured out across the Guadalupe and bought land. His son Henry decided he would plant and grow cotton around his home. Soon after they built a cotton mill and soon families flocked to the area in need of work. The town quickly sprang up but soon after a string of miss fortunes and the depression eventually lead to its demise. Everything closed except for Gruene Hall. In 1974 an avid kayaker later discover the abandoned town fell in love and saved it from demolition. He along with others started the restoration and helped make it into the quant antique town that it is today.
The streets of Gruene are in the form of T with Gruene Hall and the Gristmill at the center. The hall is now a host to live music, community gatherings and good ol’ honky tonks.
The Gristmill Restaurant and Bar sits behind it and is by far one of our places to visit. The original mill was burned in the 1922 which makes the restaurant have a unique look and feel. It’s open air, outdoor atmosphere with the subtle sound of the Guadalupe below makes for a relaxing feel. The restaurant itself is made up of old bridling remains, rustic decor and modern structure. Nestled on the side of a hill, over looking the Guadalupe, it’s like dining in a structure straight out of Swiss Family Robertson.
The food,like it’s atmosphere, is fantastic. On our most recent trip, Albert and I had lunch and both enjoyed sandwiches on delishious sourdough bread. The country club I had was the perfect blend of refreshing and filling for a warm summer day. One of their signature sauces is called “Prime Sauce” let me just say, I would of ordered a few bottles had it been available. Traditionally it comes on the country club sandwich but I opted for it on the side. Man, I dipped everything in it. If your a suace collector and a foodie like us, prime sauce is something to try. It had hints of horseradish and Dijon mustard amongst other creamy flavors. My mouth is watering just thinking about it. The food was so good we were to full to try desserts but from their six layer German chocolate cake, to their chocolate sundae it all sounded amazing.
After lunch we took a short walk down to the Guadalupe. This trip the river was to high and flowing at about 4,300 CFS, which is to dangerous for recreational tubing or kayaking. In the past though, I have floated it numerous time and it’s always a blast. Rockin’ R and Gruene River Co. are located across the river in Gruene and both make tubing and rafting trips a memorable one. The Guadalupe is large and rough in places so it’s not one I would recommend take young kids or weak swimmers on. Don’t worry though the Comal River host tubing in New Braunfels and is a mild and fun ride for all ages.
After checking out the river we headed back up the hill to Gruene, walked around the quant town and explored many of the antique shops and unique boutiques.From clay pots, pieces of American history and Texas proud souvenirs there are certainly treasures to be found. Every third Saturday, Gruene host a open market filled with all kinds of vendors with homegrown to homemade goods. If you plan to visit during Gruene Market Days make sure to get there around 9am or before. The market opens at 10am but parking is often hard find once they open.
If you live outnumbered like we do, quant towns with that step back in time feel are the much needed break you need. If your wanting to plan a romantic weekend then check out the Gruene Mansion Inn. It’s a perfect foundation to a great vacation.