My 5 All-Time Favorite Texas Cafés

Laid back casual dining is always my go-to when I’m on the road, but you won’t find me sacrificing good food for speed and convenience. With so many great cafes and small local businesses serving fresh sandwiches, fluffy pancakes and towering burgers, fast food chains just don’t stack up. In celebration of the forthcoming Season 4 of Goodtaste with Tanji (premiering September 15th!), I’m sharing some of my favorite spots across the state. Here, my 5 must-try cafes.

Mac & Ernie’s – Tarpley

Photo Credit:

Mac & Ernie’s, which started out as an outdoor kitchen, has a laid-back, fun vibe just like its Chef/Owner Naylene Dillingham. She’s always changing the menu depending on what she feels like eating, but you’ll always find the famous Ancho chili honey-basted quail. This country kitchen has even been featured on Food Network’s popular Diners, Drive-Ins, and Dives and on Bizarre Foods with Andrew Zimmern on The Travel Channel.

Rails – Kerrville

Housed inside a fully-restored 1915 Kerrville Train depot, Rails attention to detail to their restaurant and food is unmatched. This cozy little spot was the winner of the 2004 Texas Downtown Association award for its authentic historic restoration. The owner, Melissa Southern, is a trained dietitian sourcing as many organic ingredients as possible for their fresh wraps and pastas. But do save room for The Sweeter Side of Rails, the one-of-a-kind bakery next door turning out 12-15 desserts daily!

Greenhouse Craft Food – Round Rock

Photo Credit:

Casual, counter-service spot Greenhouse Craft Food sources its ingredients from local Texas farms that are only 5 minutes away! The concept was developed because the owners felt there was a need for affordable and healthy fast food. Taco Tuesday’s are a big draw here. For just $2 you get the special taco of the week, which varies from beef short rib barbacoa to a 24-hour- smoked pork shoulder with house made salsas.

Cafe at the Gardens – Midland

Photo Credit:

Visit an “oasis in the desert” at Cafe at the Gardens, nestled right inside the largest nursery and garden center in Midland. The dining room is surrounded by lush greenery and a snaking Koi pond that winds in between the tables. The produce is as fresh as it comes, it’s picked daily from the garden and used in everything from their stacked sandwiches to the rotating desserts.

Picnikins Patio Cafe – San Antonio

Photo Credit:

By day Picnikins Patio Cafe is a fast-casual cafe with soups, sandwiches, and salads made from scratch. By night, it’s full service restaurant with the same fresh lunch menu, plus dishes like Cape Malay Beef Curry and Malva Pudding from the owners’ home country, South Africa. Grab a stool at the bar, cozy up in a booth or take your food and drinks outside to the  expansive patio and play cornhole.



5 Responses to My 5 All-Time Favorite Texas Cafés

Dee Smith says: August 28, 2018 at 3:00 pm

Hello enjoy your show every week but come to Houston more often. Of course I rather be in San Antonio or Austin but guess that’s life in the fast lane. Even the small towns be OK . Try barbecue inn on crosstimbers and Yale street . got good food especially shrimp and made from scratch devil crab. Been knowing the owners since 1964 . Good people good food. Anything u eat there is good. Thank you.dee smith. Hou. Tx.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *




Goodtaste with Tanji© 2018-2019