San Marcos Like a Local

Views, Brews & 'Ques

March 9, 2015

by Charlotte Wattigny as printed in Food and Travel Quarterly

San Marcos, Texas may be the fastest growing city in the United State for two years in a row, but it’s still that hip little town with a river flowing as it’s heart. With a population just tipping the 60,000 mark and Texas State University contributing to its youthful feel, San Marcos is a vibrant destination that is never more inviting than in the Spring.

The local culinary scene is as diverse as your choice of adventure.


The chef-inspired simple elegance of fresh, local fare at the Root Cellar Café is a tasty way to begin. Take a stroll around the eclectic downtown square where area artists and local businesses team up to make sure your eyes enjoy a feast, too.

Downtown music and art events are a regularly occurrence on the shaded courthouse lawn: MR Fest in April, Swing on the Square in May and Art Squared Art Market on the second Saturday of every month.

And you definitely want to try a famous Manske Roll from Gil’s Broiler while you’re downtown. This oversized sweet roll was a favorite of president Lyndon Baines Johnson when he was a college student here. It’s rumored LBJ even had these rolls shipped to the White House once he became president. One bite and you’ll know why.

As the sun begins to set, truly inspired Hill Country cuisine is on the menu. Pecan-crusted chicken, chili-rubbed rib eye, and citrus-poached salmon are just a few of the savory selections at Palmer’s Restaurant, Bar & Courtyard. Sip a fresh, hand-squeezed margarita or one of the signature drink creations in the courtyard to wrap things up.


Shaded by giant Cypress trees and a refreshing 72 degrees year-round, the spring-fed San Marcos River is the perfect place to cool off. Rio Vista Falls has three amazingly fun drop-offs of easy, whitewater rapids. Spring Break is a relaxing time to go for a float, try your hand at stand-up paddle or grab a kayak and navigate its length.

by The Hitch: A Mobile Eatery

For a fun, outdoor lunch, find yourself at San Marcos’ food trailer park, The Hitch: A Mobile Eatery, only a five-minute walk from the park and river. With cuisine from Thailand, to real-deal BBQ and delicious Hawaiian fare, there’s something to please every palate.

Visit The Meadows Center to enjoy the river without actually getting wet. Glass bottom boat tours give a view of the bubbling natural springs that is just as clear at 30 feet as it is at 3. The kids are going to love it! Or take their Glass bottom kayaks for a more intimate experience with the aquatic life.


photo by Middleton Brewing 

Head for the edge of town to Middleton Brewing, where a dream of providing quality ales to the Texas Hill Country has come to life. Sample any number of their Belgian, American or British ales and get ready to sit back, and truly relax either inside or out on their upper deck over looking gorgeous hill country vistas.

photo by Hays Co. BBQ

What goes better with a Texas brew than some savory bar-b-que? Hays County BBQ will fill your plate full of tender and flavorful meats that have smoked over a wood fire, nursed for hours upon delicious hours. Juicy brisket, tender pork ribs and succulent sausage will set your taste buds tingling.

Spring Break is one of the most fun and flavorful times to pack up the family, grab some friends or just sneak away with your spouse. And San Marcos will definitely satisfy your taste for adventure too.