new zion missionary baptist church bBQ | Huntsville
Sitting in the shadows of Sam Houston National Forest, this joint serves up a soul food version of barbecue rooted in East Texas culture. You walk past an old smoker decorating the front yard and into a little white building, which holds the kitchen and a handful of cramped dining spaces. There, Clinton Edison (pictured)—he’s the proprietor and pastor at the church right across the driveway—and his friendly staff fix your plate to order, with thick pork ribs, sliced beef brisket, pork-and-beef sausage, and chicken, with velvety sauce ladled on the side. Sides include typical ’cue accouterments like potato salad, pinto beans, sliced white onion, sliced pickles, and white bread. Save room for a slice of heavenly buttermilk or pecan pie.
—J.N. 2601 Montgomery Road. 936-294-0884
Photo: Dave Shafer
Hit the Spot Café | Garfield
With great food (breakfast all day!) and reasonable prices, this eatery between Austin and Bastrop can get pretty busy. But since the café shares its entrance with the Garfield Library, the waits can be informative and enjoyable—and library books can be taken to your table. Folks from the library approached café owner Jesse Solis nine years ago about sharing the space, and it’s worked out beautifully for bookworms and comfort food fans. The café is definitely the draw, however. Solis makes fork-tender chicken-fried steaks (served here by Maria Gomez, left, and Isabela Garcia) that have caused many an 8-mile detour from the Austin airport. Solis opened a second location in Hutto last year. Even with a third location in Cedar Creek coming this year, Hit the Spot is constantly updating its menu, with new additions including a fried chicken sandwich, chicken and waffles, and a Reuben sandwich. “We do everything by hand,” says Solis, “so it takes some time.” That’s cool. The only thing better than curling up with a good book is putting it down when your food comes.
—M.C. 5121 Albert Brown Drive. 512-563-5765
Photo: Wynn Myers
Espresso Y Poco Mas | Terlingua
When native Texan Mimi Webb Miller (pictured) moved to Terlingua from California, she missed having a good cup of espresso. Locals and visitors hankered for a place to hang out, too. So she opened an open-air café (in addition to guest houses) that provided both, as well as breakfast and lunch. It’s an ever-evolving labor of love for Webb Miller and general manager/cook Noemi Aviles, who makes from-scratch pastries, breakfast burritos, salsa, and sandwiches like meatloaf and rotisserie chicken salad. They’re all served with views of the rugged Chisos Mountains under the shade of olive trees.
—Melissa Gaskill 45 Milagro Way. 432-371-3044; laposadamilagro.net
Photo: Jennifer Boomer