Eating Marfa: A West Texas Culinary Adventure

 

It may seem odd for someone who has spent the better part of this decade living and eating in New York and San Francisco to say that she goes to Marfa, a tiny town in the middle of West Texas, to eat, but it wouldn’t be far from the truth. While other towns of similar size may boast a Dairy Queen at best, the 2000-person Marfa is, in a nutshell, its own Brooklyn. A culinary surprise, if you will. Below, some highlights…

 

 

The Food Shark in undoubtedly the town meeting spot and a can’t-miss on your Marfa food adventure.

 

 

Famous for its Marfalafel (which is SO good), the menu changes daily and it’s always a surprise to see what the husband and wife team serve up to the patrons, a mix of ranchers, artists and tourists.

 

 

This time it was white bean, kale and chorizo tacos and beef stew tacos. Yum.

 

 

Don’t forget dessert, a vital part of lunch. Nutella cookies? Oh yes they did.

 

 

What’s most surprising about the food here, and in Marfa as a whole, is the quality of ingredients. Fresh, seasonal, local.

 

 

 

When it’s too cold for shorts and eating outside under the pavilion, there’s a revamped heated bus, called the Dining Car, that you can nosh in.

 

 

Brilliant.

 

 

Table in the back or window?

 

 

When night time rolls around and you’ve already gazed the Marfa Mystery Lights and had a drink on The Paisano’s patio, head to Cochineal for dinner.

 

 

If you’re lucky, you’ll get to taste the crab cakes, perfectly seasoned and balanced and simply and beautifully presented.

 

 

If you’re really lucky, you’ll get to taste the gnocchi, perfect potato pasta that makes merry with basil, tomatoes, capers and a sprinkle of parmesan.

 

 

The toughest part of your evening will be deciding on dessert. You’ll choose the vanilla creme brulee and it will vanish in three seconds flat. You’ll applaud yourself for not overdoing it by ordering two desserts…

 

 

Until you see this.

 

 

If you’re really lucky (and doomed), the sweet and talented folks in the kitchen will surprise you with a chocolate souffle, just because. And you will eat it. Because you have to. Your tongue will thank you, your thighs will rebel by dimpling. C’est la vie.

 

 

Merci, chef.

 

 

Merci, Cochineal.

 

 

You’ll exit through the gravel-filled, twinkling garden…

 

 

Full and happy. And plotting what your next food adventure will be, of course.

 

 

Perhaps the next day you’ll find yourself at Maiya’s…

 

 

For the best Mexican Martini north AND south of the Rio Grande.

 

 

Oh, and for the tasty food too, like creamy asparagus soup, fresh baked bread…

 

 

And lasagne funghi… Mushrooms and martinis, a surprisingly good combination.

 

 

The wild coho salmon with pistachio nut butter is an interesting choice.

 

 

For something lighter, the tartlettes are divine.

 

 

 

 

Don’t forget dessert…

 

 

Craving something more casual? Pop into the Pizza Foundation, run by Maiya’s sister and brother-in-law, Boston refugees who are pie perfectionists.

 

 

You’ll be amazed to find the best pizza of your life, well, top three anyway, in a former gas station. The crust is perfection, you’ll say as you wash it down with a limeade (mango and watermelon are divine).

 

 

But what if you just want to grab a snack to go? You’ll head to The Get Go, a gourmet grocer, naturally.

 

 

Perhaps you’ll shop for a picnic for your day trip to Big Bend, Balmorhea Springs or Fort Davis, pick up an organic lollypop or just a BlueSky soda to wet your whistle (it does get dry in the West Texas desert, as you might imagine)…

 

 

Or, perhaps you’ll wet your whistle with something that, much like Marfa, simultaneously soothes and wakes up your taste buds (and creative juices) — a cucumber and chili pepper popsicle, because this is Texas, after all.

[Photos by kellygolightly]

 

Happy Cinco de Mayo, Daaahlings!
Picnic Club: Best Idea Ever

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