With wine, whiskey, best fresh farm to table food, and even elephants, it’s hard to imagine why less than 300 people live here…perhaps that’s the key to Hye Living in Hye Texas.
I really thought long and hard about writing this post – mostly because I really don’t want to share it. (There I said it.)
I feel like I’ve been sitting on this secret for a few years and honestly, I’m afraid if I share it then everyone will know that one of the best places in the world is Hye, Texas.
A few years ago I found this spot kinda on accident on the way to Fredericksburg. A huge advocate for the Texas wine industry, I had planned on a wine trip but heard there was amazing distillery outside of town that you couldn’t miss.
What I found out is that it’s not just the distillery that makes this place cool, but the whole town. And at less 300 people (214 and counting), one has to wonder if it’s the lack of people, the lack of drive-thrus, or if it’s something in the wine that makes it such a great place to visit (if you decide to even go home after you’ve been here.)
You won’t find one Starbucks, McDonalds or anything with a drive-thru here. What you will find is the Hye Market, a one-stop shop for fresh farm to table cooking, nearby Texas wines, and plenty of sides to choose from. You’ll also find peach ice cream made from local peach orchards and you can even pick up the mail here. Once upon a time this place served as the post office for the childhood home of President LBJ (you’ll find the LBJ Park just across the street), but also still serves as the post office for its few residents.
While this is the only “market” you’ll find in town, you won’t find groceries, but some of the best dang sandwiches I’ve ever had in my life. Owned by Jason Cook, if you’re looking for anyone you’ll find them here waiting to see what Chef Matt Church and his team are cooking up (literally, everyone hangs out to see what he opens on the smoker.) The menu changes a little daily and when they’re out, they’re out. But you can always enjoy a glass of wine, infused water and some live music while you wait for your sandwich.
INSIDER’S TIP: You can make your order online and have it ready for pick up. Do this if you can because some days the line is long and for good reason.
This is the Hye Cuban made with housemade picked and Matt’s smoked pork and a whole bunch of goodness. But it’s the grilled cheese (add the housemade bacon) that keeps me coming back for almost every meal I eat when I’m here.
Yes, every meal.
So if it’s that good do you really need anywhere else to eat? You don’t, but there are a few options! Don’t miss some of the best Thai food ever at Hye Thai, next to Hye Cider (see below) staffed and made by a father-son team. I had some of the creamiest Tom Kai a freshmade spring roll in the middle of hill country under the stars here one night.
And if you’re looking for a burger, you’ll find the Stonewall Diner next to my favorite place to stay in Hye, Stonewall Motor Lodge. The place is perfect for staying the weekend, hanging with friends and just being in the moment. Plus they always know what’s going on in town so just ask them and they’ll get you lined up.
And why would you want to fill up at restaurants when you can experience some rather stellar wine-food pairings at the wineries?
Definitely one of the Hye-ist-rated reasons to go to Hye, are all the amazing wineries and distilleries. If they’d let me I think I’d just drive a golf cart around town as they aren’t far from each other. Here you’ll find the only wine cave in hill country at Calais Winery or escape across the pond via the French Connection.
Horn Winery & Tasting Room and Azeo Distillery
This spot is a two-fer: Here you’ll find both a winery and a distillery. Well technically these are two different locations, but since in Texas you can’t make both in the same place, you can separate two businesses by a wall which makes it legal. At Horn you can enjoy some wine or walk a few steps into the Azeo Distillery to play records and pool while you sip basically whatever you’re craving – because they make it all here. (But don’t forget to snag a bottle of the Peach Brandy made from local peaches and takes like 500 peaches for each bottle to taste this good.)
Blue Lotus Winery
Hye seems to be full of surprises and at Blue Lotus this winery also serves as the home of some of the best mead in Texas. Considered the oldest known alcoholic beverage, mead is made from by fermenting honey mixed with water and is a nice retreat from drinking wine all afternoon (if you need that:) Plus who wouldn’t want to enjoy drinking at a place that feels like a giant wine barrel?
William Chris Vineyards
This one had me the moment we drove up. Maybe it was because I was still relishing in my last bite of lunch at Hye Market (which is right across the street) or maybe it was the picturesque view when you drive up to the winery that butts up to LBJ Park, but whatever it was – it did the trick. Greeted almost steps from my car with a kind lady with a glass of wine, William Chris is the postcard perfect kinda place you think all wineries look like.
Enjoy 100% Texas-made wines including a sparkling Blanc du Bois and several different Mourvedre options. Now if the wine, scenery, or hospitality doesn’t do it for you at William Chris, then the huge list of fantastic wine events throughout the year – including a Goat Roast and Crawfish Boil will. And everyone is invited – at least if you’re on the wine club list (and yes, I am.)
Wine is just the start of it in Hye. While whiskey is what brought me here a few years ago, one sip at Hye Rum and you’ll be staying awhile (that’s because they’re so good and potent.) Owned by one cool lady, you’ll want to make this your first stop of the day for the buttered rum and then maybe a little later in the day for your painkiller. Plus they’re opened on Sundays. And you can also get a mean Cuban sandwich here that’s worth the belly room!
Hye Cider Co.
After a day of day drinking, it’s good to finish things off with friends hanging out around the fire with some live music and cold cider from Hye Cider Co. If you wonder where everyone goes when the sun goes down, this is it. Made with nearby goods like bay leaf and figs, I promise you haven’t tasted anything like this before. And the ambience matches the drink. (And always remember, there’s Thai that pairs perfectly just steps away!)
Garrison Brothers Distillery
Headed down that gravel road the first time I didn’t know what I would find but I’m so glad I did. Garrison Brothers Distillery is like Texas in a bottle – unfiltered, full of body, soul, and a lot of flavor including cinnamon, chocolate and well, Texas. The idea of a perfect afternoon for me is to get a flight of Garrison’s bests and sit under the trees, visiting with friends and just enjoying what makes Texas so beautiful.
And when you have had a few too many sips, you can retreat to the bathroom where it looks like you’ve never went indoors at all – looking out into the pastures (see below so you see what you’ll see.) Let’s just saw you’ll learn what they meant by outhouse.
However, you don’t ever know what else might happen when you’re at Garrison Brothers. For instance my last trip I was invited to participate in a special blind tasting. What I would find out is the tasting wasn’t just a tasting but with Jim Murray of the Whiskey Bible, who named Garrison Brothers Cowboy Bourbon™ “American Micro Whiskey of the Year.” After four hours and 16 different blind tastings, the group selected Garrison definitely owned its title.
Okay honestly everything was fun to be here, but one of the coolest and newest things in Hye is the Hye Hall. Right across from the Hye Market owned by Cook, he along with Oliver Deike (one of the founding families of Hye) and the Texas Dance Hall Preservation Inc, took on the job of preserving the 100 + year old facility where people once congregated in this little town. Thankfully the timing worked out perfectly so that Cook could get married in the dance hall that has some amazing acoustic and beautiful wood floors. And if you’re lucky enough to be in town on New Year’s this is the big celebration spot where everyone dances the night away while toasting to the new year with William Chris’ bubbles.
Now that’s Hye Living in Hye Texas!
Still looking for more to do in Texas Hill Country?
The list is long and I’ve just started. Take a look at what to do in nearby Fredericksburg and remember, let’s go to Luckenbach, Texas.