The South's Best Small Town in Texas 2018: Fredericksburg
This German village in the Hill Country is loaded with character.
Fredericksburg may not be hidden any longer, but it's still a gem. Consider its selling points: more than 150 shops and galleries, many in fine old stone buildings along Main Street; well-preserved German landmarks; the multitude of inns and bed-and-breakfasts within walking distance of restaurants, live music, and biergartens; and the area's wineries, several of which rise up from the idyllic pastures alongside U.S. 290.
I've heard more than one grouch refer to it as "Touristenburg," but Fritztown, as the longtimers like to call it, comes to its gemütlichkeit spirit (an untranslatable sentiment that roughly means "cordiality") honestly. The Germans who settled here in 1846 laid out their new village near the Pedernales River to look like their old ones along the Rhine.
There is still a great community making it a special place worth visiting—and I recently spent an agendaless afternoon in this quaint burg. At Blackchalk Home and Laundry, a new gift shop from Jill Elliott, I asked where I could get the best lunch in town. Following the clerk's advice, I headed for the old feedstore across the street, where tourists join locals (or is it the other way around?) at Angela Mancino's Woerner Warehouse Cafe & Catering. It's the rare restaurant where you can finish your sandwich and then turn to buy a French grotto relic—it's tucked into a corner of Carol Hicks Bolton Antiqüit.s, a 30,000-square-foot world of European treasures.
A few blocks away, you'll find a new wineand- sundries shop, La Bergerie. It's only the size of a small house, which it used to be, but I spent the better part of an hour flipping through intriguing cookbooks, sampling the house-made charcuterie, and buying Texas pecan bread made by Bakery JoJu's Josh Raymer. The woman standing behind the cheese case said that these loaves have a cult following at the farmers' market and introduced herself to me as Leslie Washburne, proprietor of the Hoffman Haus, a multicottage B&B close to Main Street. She was tending shop for her son, John Washburne, who owns the market as well as the restaurants Otto's and Tubby's Ice House, a few doors down.
Later at Otto's, as I waited for the duck schnitzel, I browsed the local Airbnb rentals—an updated farmhouse on a generations-old turkey farm; a mid-century modern two-bedroom with Silkie chickens—it will be hard to choose, but I'll need a place to stay the next time I come for a visit.