Wednesday, March 8, 2017

Short Trip to New Braunfels

Donna and I were getting a bit restless, so we decided a short trip to New Braunfels was in order.

New Braunfels is a city of about 70,000 folks between Austin and San Antonio. It was settled by German immigrants about 1845 and retains much of the culture of its founders. I've always enjoyed this place; in fact, Donna and I became engaged here more years ago than I care to remember. But the town has grown so rapidly since then that it is beginning to lose its unique character. But that is the opinion of an old fossil; I suspect most people would really enjoy the place.

The list of things to do in New Braunfels is endless, especially if you are young and you love the water. Some of the major attractions include Schlitterbahn Water Park, Natural Bridge Caverns and Wildlife Ranch, Gruene Hall, Wurstfest, and many, many more.

Donna and I have done many of the things in New Braunfels, so we really go there to just soak in the culture.

We made our headquarters at the Faust Hotel. This was our second time to stay here, and it may be our last. We picked the Faust because we like old hotels and it is conveniently located on the edge of downtown, but the rooms really are not that comfortable. I think we are just a bit more demanding these days, and rooms in old hotels are usually small, especially the bathrooms. Heating and cooling often do not work well, and lighting can be poor. But if you can overlook these snags, then the location is excellent.

Front of the Faust Hotel.

Lobby of the Faust
On the day we arrived, we visited the Phoenix Saloon, about 2 blocks from the hotel. We like the Phoenix, and we especially like their chile. This place has been highlighted on more than one travel show, including The Daytripper. One of the things we like about the place is that on Sunday afternoon, they have a music matinee. It's a pretty laid back event, and it's free. So, sit back, enjoy one of the many brews available on tap, and tap your foot along to some Texas music. During our visit, Jeffrey Ryan Vaughn was on stage. From time to time, a friend would join Vaughn for a song or two. It's a good way to spend a Sunday afternoon.

The bar at the Phoenix hosts an impressive array of beers on tap.

Front area of the Phoenix

Jeffrey Ryan Vaughn on stage at the Phoenix
On Monday, we set out to do some shopping. But first, we needed some fuel, so we headed a couple of blocks down the street to Naegelin's Bakery, which touts itself as the oldest bakery in Texas. I can't verify whether this declaration is true or not, but I can verify that this little bakery does produce some might tasty items. Donna and I both enjoyed a Danish cream kolache, and they were excellent. Donna had some type of white icing cookie while I enjoyed an apple fritter, though the lady called it by another name. There is no place inside to sit and eat, so we took the items out to the truck and enjoyed our makeshift breakfast there.

Interior of Naegelin's is rather small, but the taste is big.
Then we headed to the outlet malls in nearby San Marcos. There are 2 malls on the interstate just south of San Marcos, Tanger and San Marcos Premium Outlet. I'm not much for shopping, but I do appreciate a trip to the Haggar outlet stores. I find these stores are one of the few places you can find a pair of pants with an odd inseam length. My perfect length is 31, but most stores only stock even inseam lists. So I stocked up on a few pairs of pants while in the area.

After a morning of shopping, we headed to Lockhart for some BBQ. We've eaten at all the places in Lockhart, so we debated about which one to try this time. It had been 4 years since our last stop in Lockhart, so we wanted to choose wisely; however, we failed. We opted for Smitty's, which I've enjoyed in the past, but on this day, we were disappointed. The brisket had lots of fat; the ribs were dry; and the sausage was dry. None of the meat had the smoked taste we long for. Well, you win some and you lose some, so we'll cross Smitty's off our list for now.

We were disappointed with the meat at Smitty's this trip. Jalapeno sausage on the right, ribs in the center, and brisket on left. Notice the large amount of fat on the strip of brisket nearest the bread. The meat all lacked the smoky taste we crave.

When you enter Smitty's from the back, you get up close and personal to the pit.
Back in New Braunfels, we decided to visit Krause's. This turned out to be the favorite spot for us on this trip. One of the waitresses visited with us for a while and told us the place had just opened less than 2 months ago. There is a café inside, but we spent our time in the biergarten. The weather was perfect during the day, with a pleasant breeze blowing through. For chilly days and nights, there are 6 propane heaters that line the perimeter of the biergarten. We enjoyed watching all sorts of people come and go while we were there. This is going to quickly become one of the favorite watering holes in New Braunfels. Should we return to New Braunfels, we'll certainly visit this place.

Exterior view of Krause's. The domed area is the biergarten. A farmer's market is held on Saturdays in the area where the cars are parked.
Another exterior view of Krause's showing the mural.

The draft beer selection at Krause's is more extensive than that at the Phoenix, located across the street.

One end of the biergarten with stage at right. Notice the standing propane heater in left center.

People seem to just drop in, have a beer or two, visit a bit, then move along somewhere else. It's a nice place to spend some time.

The original party girl enjoying a pint of Fat Tire.

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