Endless Road Trip Marfa: Padre’s Bar & Grill
If you haven’t heard of Marfa, Texas, I can’t blame you. I didn’t know much about it until I moved to Austin a couple years back, but then I learned quickly enough: Marfa is a little town in the West Texas desert which has turned into an art enclave in the past few decades. It has some glimmers of weirdness because it was the setting of an old James Dean movie way back in the day, and it’s also home to the Marfa Lights, a mysterious phenomenon in the sky… basically, if you are looking for a scenic, artsy, and perhaps slightly creepy wild west desert roadtrip, West Texas (and specifically Marfa) is the place for YOU!
And the place for ME. I loved our trip so much. It’s funny because Marfa really is a teensy town, but I felt like there was way too much to do in the short amount of time we spent in the town (2 days out of the 4 we were in West TX). And by “do” I mean “eat” obviously, because Marfa actually has a great (albeit small, I mean come on, it’s like a 4-street town) food scene! So many cute food trucks and hole-in-the-wall spots only open for breakfast or lunch. There are like three “fancy”-ish restaurants and three bars as well. At least five days’ worth of solid eating and drinking, is what I’m saying.
Anyway, let’s start at the very beginning of our Friday-Monday trip. We rolled into Marfa in Friday early evening after driving for about 6-7 hours (and stopping to swim at the ultra-gorgeous Balmorhea State Park on the way out, a highly recommended activity!). After checking into our teepees (yes, TEEPEES y’all) at El Cosmico, another highly endorsed choice, we realized we were starving even though it was only like 5:00pm. We were planning on going for a hike in the Davis Mountains then checking out a star party at the McDonald Observatory and we knew we needed to fuel up beforehand.
The perfect answer? Good ol’ burgers and beer, of course! So we headed to Padre’s, a little bar housed in an old funeral home. If Padre’s were in a bigger city, I could see people calling it a “hipster dive bar” or some crap like that, but not here, it’s just a legit small town bar in a cool old building. And despite being inside a slightly cavernous old funeral joint, it has a spacious and bright outdoor patio!
Padre’s has a full bar, so Dayna and I opted for margaritas instead of beers, while the boys got brews from nearby Big Bend Brewing Co. The margs were made completely by scratch, tart and delicious. So delicious that I was quickly ready for a second round. One of the locals at the bar told us to try a prickly pear marg – I’m a p-pear LOVER so I had no problem taking them up on that recommendation. So good…
As far as food goes, Padre’s keeps it real simple. Burgers, cheeseburgers, patty melts, a small variety of fries and other fried sides. They have a menu posted online but it’s a little more ambitious than what we were offered (I remember because on the website they mention a tuna melt, and if there’s one thing everyone should know about me, I will never turn down a good small town tuna melt!) but that’s okay because these burgers were perfection. They’re just what you want after a long day of driving, swimming, and drinking. Greasy, cheesy, gooey…
The patty melt was just as good. They didn’t skimp on the cheese. They did kinda skimp on the ketchup, though – we got two little paper cups between four people! Really it’s my own fault, I’m sure if I had just walked up to the bar and asked for more they would have obliged. I was just too involved in my feeding frenzy. Seven hours in the car will do that to you, I swear.
Now that you have the basics of Marfa down, sit back and enjoy… throughout the next couple weeks I’ll be sharing all my favorite recommendations and experiences so you can head out and make some West Texas memories (and maaaybe gain some West Texas weight) of your own. Don’t worry, you’ll sweat it all our in the desert sun.)