San Marcos Restaurants Keep Customers Coming Back for More
PHOTO CREDIT: Jesse Knish
San Marcos has a wide assortment of locally owned eateries, but most of them share two traits: They dish up big servings of Texas hospitality, and the entrées have a little heat.
Take the pork chop at Palmer’s Restaurant, Bar & Courtyard on Moore Street. The meat is brined for three days, grilled, finished with a habanero-honey glaze and presented alongside jalapeño-creamed corn.
Locals routinely vote Palmer’s as the best restaurant in Hays County, and university students say it is a great place to take a date.
In 2008, Palmer’s celebrated its 30th anniversary and added a wine cellar that can accommodate 1,500 to 2,000 bottles. Wines from California vineyards are the main focus, though manager Lloyd Briseno says adding more Texas wines is a goal.
“We call ourselves ‘Hill Country cuisine’ and for atmosphere and ambiance, you can’t beat it,” he says.
Palmer’s has four fireplaces and a lovely courtyard, making it a perfect destination for a special occasion dinner. The restaurant also prides itself on using local food products in many of its dishes.
Another popular San Marcos eatery is Grins, located at 802 N. LBJ Drive.
Owners Johnny Ferrell and Paul Sutphen began as cooks in 1975, when they were still in college. They stuck around and eventually bought the place and still deliver meals to tables when the restaurant is busy.
“One of the things customers like is they can come back 10 years after graduating, and we’re still here,” Ferrell says.
The burgers are renown, the fajitas sizzle and the margaritas at happy hour are 99 cents. Ferrell describes the menu as Tex-Mex and the atmosphere as fun and casual. The campus-area institution is located in an old house and has a deck for outdoor dining.
Finally, there’s Sean Patrick’s. The restaurant blends the feel and food of an Irish pub and a Texas roadhouse in a way that works – and works well.
The restaurant on East San Antonio Street in San Marcos has been going strong for 15 years. Brothers and owners Mike and Brian Harper, who recently opened a second restaurant in Conroe, started planning the dining spot when they were preteens as a way to embrace the Scotch-Irish from their father’s side and the Texas heritage from their mother’s family.
The menu is big and diverse. Sean Patrick’s serves Buffalo wings using the original recipe from Buffalo – a nod to family roots in New York. The chicken fried steak is a winner. Diners also like the Irish egg rolls, a blend of corned beef, sauerkraut and Swiss cheese wrapped in rice paper and deep-fried. Fish and chips Texas-style is another treat. To say the sourdough bread bowls heaping with Guinness beef stew are hearty is an understatement.
“We wanted the hospitality of the South and the kind nature of the Irish,” Mike Harper adds. “We’ve just got something for everyone.”