Whether it is a day trip or going or coming from the Hill Country there’s a couple of locales which have become our bread and butter stops for my wife, Becky, and me.
If you leave heading south early enough you can reach Joanna and Chip Gaines’ Magnolia Market in Waco before the lines get too long at their bakery. It opens at 7:30 a.m. and the lines begin to get lengthy by 8:30 a.m. on a Saturday morning.
There is a drop-off area right in front of the Silos Baking Co., location (on Webster between 6th and 8th) where Becky gets out within 50 feet of the front door while I circle the block. She chooses from a wide variety of pastry, but I always get their famous “Prize Pig;” a one-of-a-kind bacon and cheddar biscuit. Out and into the car within 10 minutes and on our way.
Along the way southward we stop in Salado (Exit 284) which has been reborn from a downturn due to drawn out construction along I-35 which deterred travelers from exiting to one of the best boutique strolls in Texas. Unlike many tourist shopping areas which all seem to have the same goods from the Dallas Market, Salado offers unique boutiques, many of which offer craftsmanship from local painters, glass blowers, sculptors, potters carvers and other artisans.
It’s getting toward noon and time to head south 30 miles to Georgetown (Exit 262) and its historic and beautiful downtown square. Like Salado, there are a number of distinctive shops. But what really draws us to the city center is Gumbo’s North; a wonderful eatery for great Louisiana style cooking and its one of a kind Cajun butter.
It’s not hard to fill up on Gumbo’s unique bayou butter; a combination of the Holy Trinity of onions, bell peppers and celery, plus a closely held secret of other herbs and spices. For lunch, along with the bread and butter all you really need is an appetizer (ranging from gumbo and crawfish etouffee to red beans and rice), or a salad. Becky always gets grilled shrimp salad. Both of us are stuffed for less than $25.
Sometimes we bypass Gumbo North on our way to the Hill Country and enjoy it for dinner on the way back home when we split the fish of the day because we had to first enjoy the magic of the secret butter before our entrée.
On the way back we have one more bread and butter stop, Slovacek’s on the west access road in West, Texas (Exit 353). Inside you will find a wonderful bakery offering homemade delights from sausage kolaches and a variety of pastries to an assortment of fresh made breads. But our must buy is the kielbasa rope links; fat, juicy, spice sausage you can’t find in grocery stores, but is available at the extensive meat market at the back of the Slovacek’s store.
There must be many, many special places to visit, shop, eat and drink along the way from Ellis County to the Hill Country and back. We have our bread and butter places and would love to hear about yours.