I'm thrilled to share that west Texas retails friends are starting to carry art from us! If you love traveling to west Texas as much as I do, there's many reasons to check these spots out. I'd like to share five of my favorites for yummy food, unique gifts, and west Texas flair... and BBI Art.
1. The French Co. Grocer
Marathon TX (pronounced Mara-thun by the locals), is my favorite west Texas town. I stay here every trip, and this little grocer gets my business daily. Imagine a town of 400 people with no stoplight. You wouldn't imagine a haven for organic food, travel goods, and homemade grab and go treats... but that's exactly what this little gem provides.
I always make sure one of my meals is their made-to-order cauliflower crust veggie pizza. It's so good it doesn't need cheese. If pizza isn't your thing, their selection of local bakery, fresh coffee and Friday night burger specials might do the trick. I've scored some fantastic travel items here... a travel cold press I use on the daily, wide-brim hiking hat, and wool gloves to name a few.
When I asked the cashier for a buyer's email to send art information, he gave me the owner's cell phone number. When I tentatively texted it a few days later with some product photos I got an immediate reply: "These are rad. I'll take a bunch!" It doesn't get much more "small town, easy-going, friendly of indie makers" than that.
2. Emergo Arts Boutique
When you leave Marathon heading due west on US-90, you'll cross 40 miles of some of the prettiest high desert you'll ever see before landing in Alpine. The seat of Brewster County, Alpine has the largest population in the county at a whopping 5800 people. More people means more shops, although make no mistake... most of them keep odd hours limited to the weekends.
Emergo is somewhat of an outlier here, being open Tuesday through Saturday during relatively normal business hours. I've popped in a few times on trips and there is always a group of folks perusing the eclectic, diverse selection of local goods. Maybe it's the sweet retro gas-station vibe that draws people in. Maybe it's the abundance of pieces to scour that keeps people shelf hunting. Maybe it's that they are not trying too hard. It's probably a little of all those things, and this is one of my favorite gift shops in Alpine.
The best part... the locals love it here too. The owner makes all her own soaps and screen printed t-shirts. They host art parties, and sell some of the only plus size clothing for 20 miles.
3. Fort Davis Drug Store
Fort Davis, TX
After your visit to Alpine, hop northwest on 118 to the small mountain town of Fort Davis. In the foothills of the Davis Mountains, this sweet little spot has a totally different vibe from other west Texas jaunts. I love driving up here for cooler weather, mountain hiking and lunch at the Fort Davis Drug Store.
I have a pretty sensitive stomach, and usually opt to cook in my AirBnb. When I want to eat a meal out, this is one of the spots I love. They make everything in house which is a big deal out in the relative middle of nowhere. I love their veggie burgers, potato wedge fries, and they're known for their chicken salad. Everything is good, and if you stay for dessert, the old fashioned soda fountain is where it's at.
After you're done eating in one of the large wooden booths, or people watching on the front porch, peruse their gift shop in the front of the restaurant, or next door at Javelinas and Hollyhocks.
4. Hotel Paisano
Onwards from Fort Davis, you return southwest on US-17 towards iconic Marfa. Made famous by artists and celebrities in the past decade, this one stop-light town of 1000 people feels like if Brooklyn NY were plopped down into the Texas desert overnight. The Chihuahuan Desert stretches as far as the eye can see. You suspect you might be in the middle of another planet, when suddenly you are interrupted with swanky art galleries, juice shops, and vintage furniture. Marfa is like no other.
There's a lot to see here, but the hub of the town is arguably the Hotel Paisano. Hailing to 1929, this depression era hotel is drenched in history. It's been through it's ups and downs, and has since been refurbished to it's former splendor with 41 guest rooms, one of Marfa's best pools, and easily the largest gift shop in west Texas.
If you view window shopping (or actual shopping) as a sporting event, you'll relish wandering slowly through room after room of local art, hand-crafted treasures, luxury items and more. Once done, step outside the hotel front doors and take advantage of Instagrammable spots galore, locally owned shops, the town courthouse and famous water tower.
5. Terlingua Trading Company
If you have it in you to drive out the way, Terlingua is where you'll want to visit. 50 miles south of Alpine, and 80 miles from Fort Davis and on 118, this former mining town of 600 people is also the closest to Big Bend National Park.
The sun is punishing in Terlingua and so is the heat, but I'm convinced it makes the locals happier. The vibe here is friendly, down to earth and a touch hippy/cowboy if I do say so myself. I love Terlingua and hope to stay here one day. The Terlingua Trading Company is my absolute favorite shop in west Texas, and I could (and have) spent hours here.
Their proximity to Mexico makes this a fantastic spot to grab artisanal, hand-crafted pieces from just across the border. Pottery, handwoven blankets, Oaxacan sculpture, and one of the best dang crystal collections I've seen in Texas anywhere. The shining star of this shop is it's gigantic shared front porch with the famous Starlight Theater. The Starlight is a restaurant, bar and music venue that gets its name from the lack of a roof. Patrons enjoy themselves under a glistening west Texas sky each night.
I've never been to the Starlight, but I do make sure to stay and porch-sit a little while after shopping. The locals begin gathering in the afternoon, and if you're lucky you'll hear some wickedly good stories from the old-timer Terlinguans.