What to eat, drink and do in Johnson City in the Texas Hill Country

The Texas Hill Country is no stranger to tourism. With its scenic views, outdoor activities, history, and vineyards that have sprung up over the years, it’s a hotspot for those looking to see the natural beauty of Texas along with the opportunity to a good glass of red.

While Fredericksburg is the bustling tourist anchor of the Hill Country, one small town in Texas is gaining notoriety: Johnson City.

With a population of less than 3,000, Johnson City is now home to new restaurants and bars alongside existing venues. Its location on Texas’ 290 Wine Trail, which begins in the city and runs along Highway 290 before ending in Fredericksburg, doesn’t hurt: there are several tasting rooms and wineries in Blanco County. .

While Johnson City isn’t as overrun with tasting rooms as Fredericksburg, it’s worth stopping by for some unique wine finds and a cooler, cooler vibe. Here’s how to have an awesome weekend in Johnson City.

Cool new places to eat and drink

Crowson Winery and Tasting Room

Lovers of natural wines, this is the place for you. The father-son team behind Crowson Vineyard uses a low-intervention approach to creating their wines in small batches, meaning you won’t find added yeast or sugar in their bottles. All production takes place in the same building as the tasting room, where they serve pours of Syrah, Mourvèdre, Malvasia Blanca and rosé. Simply schedule a snack time via text or email.

Find it: 102 N. Ave. G, Johnson City, TX 78636; 830-225-8880
Hours: Every day, 10 a.m.-7 p.m.

Johnson City Coffee Co. brings quality coffee and baked goods to the Texas Hill Country.

Johnson City Coffee Co.

Johnson City Coffee Co.

Sip an espresso before a long day of exploring at this local cafe. Johnson City Coffee Co. partners with the Greater Goods Coffee Company of Dripping Springs, which was named Micro Roaster of the Year 2021 by Roast Magazine. A shaded patio keeps the heat at bay during the summer, and there’s free Wi-Fi and plenty of outlets if you need to get some work done. Or, if you’re in a hurry, use the store’s convenient drive-thru window.

Find it: 108 W. Main St., Suite 821, Johnson City, TX 78636
Hours: Monday-Friday, 6:30 a.m.-5:00 p.m.; Saturday-Sunday, 7:30 a.m.-5 p.m.

Nice N easy

Nice N easy is one of Johnson City’s newest watering holes, but the building has been a downtown landmark since 1917. Legend has it that the site served liquor in the 1870s and that a pre- President of 12 years, Lyndon B. Johnson, sampled “medicinal” wine there. Now in the 2020s, Nice N Easy serves craft cocktails, wine and beer, as well as classic Texan snacks such such as Frito pie, fries and guacamole, and chili dogs.Taste Yokefellow beer or Lightsome wine, produced by the bar owners.

Find it: 106 N Nugent Ave, Johnson City, TX 78636
Hours: Friday 4pm-midnight; Saturday noon-midnight; Sunday noon-10 p.m.; Monday 4pm-10pm

The Southold Farm + Cellar Lounge

Hill Country Winery Southold Farm & Cellar has opened its Johnson City satellite wine bar in 2019. The wines are made with grapes grown in Texas with a low intervention winemaking approach. Southold’s list includes mixes with Italian and French varieties, mostly from the Rhone Valley, among others. Enjoy a glass or whole bottle with light snacks in the modern indoor space or on the back patio.

Find it: 109 N. Nugent Ave, Johnson City, TX 78636
Hours: Thursday-Saturday, 11 a.m.-6 p.m.

Southold Farm & Cellar opened a wine bar in Johnson City to showcase juice from the winery.

Southold Farm & Cellar opened a wine bar in Johnson City to showcase juice from the winery.

Southold Farm and Winery

Other food and wine must-haves

Bryan on 290

Chef Bryan Gillenwater focuses on Hill Country cuisine – think veal cutlet, Prime Angus rib eye and smoked duck breast toast – and emphasizes wood-fired cooking, recalling when he discovered his love for cooking as a Boy Scout tending a campfire. Since its opening in 2016, Bryans of 290 has been a favorite of locals and visitors alike. Reservations are recommended.

Find it: 300 E. Main St., Johnson City, TX 78636; 830-868-2424
Hours: Tuesday-Saturday, 5 p.m.-9 p.m.

Lewis Wines

Texas-native winemaker Doug Lewis works with unique Texas-grown grapes that few other wineries produce, including Portuguese varieties Tinta Cão and Touriga Nacional in the Round Mountain Reserve red blend. Lewis Wines‘serene outdoor tasting room offers views of the Pedernales River Basin.

Lewis Wines produces some of the best wines in the Texas Hill Country.

Lewis Wines produces some of the best wines in the Texas Hill Country.

Emma Baller

Find it: 3209 US-290, Johnson City, TX 78636; 512-987-0660
Hours: Thursday-Monday, 10:30 a.m.-5 p.m.

Pecan Street Brew

In front of the courthouse on the town square, Pecan Street Brew is a Johnson City hotspot, for good reason. The brewery lives in the old Blanco County Supply and Hardware building, which was once the unofficial meeting place for locals back then. Now it has your standard pub fare – pizza, burgers, salads – plus home-brewed beer and Texas-made wines. Find live music on Fridays and Saturdays and a pet-friendly beer garden (but call ahead to make sure it’s not booked for an event).

Find it: 106 E Pecan Dr, Johnson City, TX 78636; 830-868-2500
Hours: Monday-Thursday, 11am-8pm; Friday-Sunday, 11am-9pm

Between tastings and meals

Art Galeries

Johnson City has several art galleries, most within walking distance of each other. A Smith Gallery presents work by professional and amateur photographers, Art Beat Studio & Gallery has art to buy in many mediums and a local artist Lee Casbeer presents his detailed paintings and wall work in his own gallery.

The science mill

If you’re traveling with kids or super-enthusiastic adult hobby scientists, the science museum housed in an animal feed factory built in 1880 offers interactive STEM-focused exhibits, an aquaponics greenhouse, and a science and art park. the mill of science opened in 2015, seeking to give any child the opportunity to see themselves as a future scientist. Picnics are also welcome at the tables in the park, if you wish to eat alongside the African spurred tortoises that inhabit it.

The Science Mill opened in Johnson City in 2015 in a former flour mill.

The Science Mill opened in Johnson City in 2015 in a former flour mill.

Catherine Parker

Find it: 101 S. Lady Bird Lane, Johnson City, TX 78636; 844-263-6405
Hours: Wednesday-Saturday, 10am-4pm; Sunday, 12 p.m.-4 p.m.

Texas Vintage Motorcycle Museum

Motorcycle enthusiast Gordon Massie moved to Johnson City from Houston in late 2021, buying the former home of the Echo Art Gallery that once operated as a Ford dealership in the 1930s. Bikers and enthusiasts of all ages can browse Massie’s collection over 70 classic motorcycles from the 1950s, 1960s and 1970s that he has built over the years.

Find it: 100 N. Nugent Ave, Johnson City, TX 78636
Hours: Thursday-Sunday, 11am-6pm

Venture outside of Johnson City

Lyndon B. Johnson State Park and Historic Site

Texas Hill Country has strong ties to President Lyndon B. Johnson. Stonewall is his birthplace and Johnson City his home and final resting place. It’s worth seeing his old stomping ground while you’re there. Begin at the Visitor Center for a self-guided tour of the LBJ Ranch, which includes views of the Pedernales River, LBJ’s birthplace, the one-room schoolhouse he attended in 1912, the Johnson family cemetery where he is buried, and the Texas White House, where LBJ and Lady Bird have lived and hosted leaders from around the world. world for more than 20 years. It’s also a sight to behold during bluebonnet season, which should come as no surprise – Lady Bird Johnson was well known for her love of wildflowers.

Find it: 199 Park Road 52, Stonewall, TX 78671; 830-644-2252
Hours: Every day 8:30 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Pedernales Falls State Park is a popular hiking spot in the Texas Hill Country.

Pedernales Falls State Park is a popular hiking spot in the Texas Hill Country.

Texas Department of Parks and Wildlife

Pedernales Falls State Park

the 5,200 acre park has trails for hiking, biking and horseback riding, campsites, scenic views and, of course, waterfalls and areas to swim or fish. Bring a picnic to enjoy on the limestone slabs next to quiet swimming spots, but don’t leave anything behind. Day passes are $6 per person 13 and older.

Find it: 2585 ​​Park Road 6026, Johnson City, TX 78636 (830-868-7304)
Hours: Daily, 8am-10pm

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