While Marfa is a small town, its identity as an artists enclave and hip Southwest tourist destination cultivates a demand for finer dining. I’m not talking stuffy, classic dining (I don’t think anything close to that really exists in these small South Texas towns) but creative, modern, upscale restaurants? There’s a couple in the area but Cochineal is the one I’d heard the most buzz about. So I figured hey, when’s the next time we’ll be in Marfa, let’s splurge a little bit.
A thirty seat dining room, forty odd seat courtyard, open kitchen, and a vegetable garden supplying the freshest baby greens and vegetables – all came into being by 2008 and the restaurant opened on May 22.
The food served at Cochineal is much as Ruth Reichl wrote about Restaurant Etats-Unis for theNY Times in 1993. We are still home cooks, still cooking simple food, still changing the menu daily, still paying attention to the inherent qualities of the raw ingredients. We are still in love with the wines of the world and maintain a list of some 250 bottles in a wide range of prices.
We have also have the continuing joy of watching a wonderful staff of very young and very native Marfans grow into an appreciation of what food can become and into an awareness of how skilled and competent they can become.
Cochineal isn’t a big space, but it’s really stylish and sexy. They have a great, dusty little outdoor seating area in their front courtyard, or you can sit in the sleek yet rustic indoor space (where we enjoyed our meal). The menu at Cochineal is comprised of small plates, large plates, and a couple desserts. It changes daily, and once they run out of something, they are OUT. We got a 6:00pm reservation because, as Aerosmith would say, I don’t wanna miss a thing.
What does a multi-course dinner at one of the best restaurants in West Texas look like? Feast your eyes on this.
For course one, Rob and I split the peking style quail with a crispy and sticky skin stuffed with fermented carrots, pineapple, and fried rice. We also got the house-baked bread with Marfa yeasts to share between the table. Oh, and duh, I got a cocktail! A vodka gimlet which was ultra fresh and tasty.