If you’ve read my About Us page, you know that I hail from a city of 8.7 million people but have gratefully landed in a small town of 27,000: Kerrville.
I had been visiting Kerrville since 1996, when I first proposed to my now-wife, Karen. For decades, I’d spend a week or two — or, during one summer, three weeks! (It was heavenly.) — visiting her family and enjoying the quieter, slower lifestyle than that afforded by a big city. In early 2018, I finally had the opportunity to move here, and while some people say about a vacation spot, “Great place to visit, but I wouldn’t want to live there,” I say Kerrville is a great place to visit and also to live in.
In this post we’ll take a look at some things you can do in downtown Kerrville. Since there’s a separate merchant organization and website devoted to this, I won’t try to repeat the listings but merely add some color commentary.
Getting your bearings
First thing you need to know is that the heart of true “downtown” Kerrville is on Earl Garrett Street between Main and Water Streets, and on Water Street between Washington and Sidney Baker Streets. It forms a “T.”
At the top of this “T” is the Daughtry Pavilion, a covered area that hangs over the banks of the Guadalupe and where you can sit on one of the benches, chat with friends, and enjoy a coffee while looking out over the water flowing by. Or go at sunset.
On Earl Garrett between Main and Jefferson Streets, you’re walking alongside the courthouse on one side and a string of businesses, only some of which cater to the general public.
The other area to pay attention to is Main Street between Earl Garrett and Washington Streets, which has a couple restaurants, among other establishments.
Other significant areas that, while not “downtown,” are notable for their upcoming status as places to shop and get food and drink are the “East End” and the “Clay Street Corridor,” both of which will be covered in separate articles. And on Fridays, don’t miss the Farmer’s Market on Water and Clay Streets, also covered in a subsequent post.
Food & Drink
No visit to downtown Kerrville is complete without going to Rita’s Tacos. Their menu can be viewed here. Speaking for myself, I like the Dale or the Rita taco, adding nopalitos (cactus) on either. Tacos generally run ~$3, perhaps 50 cents more since COVID caused an increase in the price of meats and poultry. In the dining area, there are bottles of red and green salsas you can bring to your table. Delicious. Be forewarned, though, that Rita’s doesn’t serve chips and salsa. (For that, a lot of people’s go-to place is Mamacita’s, wedged between Water and Main Streets as they approach the Five Points intersection north of town which, more than their chips, is sought for their wickedly good green sauce. Here is one of the recipes that can help you try to recreate it: note the crazy amount of garlic powder!) Rita’s also has a location closer to Ingram, handy for those coming from Hunt and points north.
If you’re a coffee lover like me, consider spending the early morning at PAX Coffee and Goods, located next to Rita’s toward Water Street. They have a relaxing bankette with tables, and make all the coffee drinks (espresso, cappuccino, latte, etc.) as well as a cortado, something I indulge in every once in a while. At PAX, you can also get a variety of food, including bagels from Boss Bagel — of course with cream cheese; I go for plain because I’m a purist, but you can have jalapeño or others — and top it with salmon, red onion and capers. Their sandwiches are delicious, and they offer other delectables like a Nutell with banana plate. Full menu is here.
Beyond coffee but still downtown
Other places not to miss are:
- Francisco’s on the corner of Water and Earl Garrett. If you’re there on Friday, don’t miss their chile relleno.
- Yeo-Bo’s Cafe around the corner on Water.
- Hill Country Cafe on Main between Earl Garrett and Washington.
- Antojitos El Palmar Chico, under new management. Also has great chips and salsa, and affordable prices.
- The Humble Fork, corner of Water and Sidney Baker Streets.
- Grape Juice, across Sidney Baker from Humble Fork.
- Cartewheels, in the Schreiner Building. (Fantastic chicken salad sandwiches.)
- Turtle Creek Olives and Vines on Earl Garrett.
Other eateries are nearby, both those serving farm-to-table food as some of these do, and the fast food options.
One decadent option is Daily Donuts on Main Street between Sidney Baker and Clay. It’s open every day, including Sunday, between 5am and 1pm. Their jelly donuts are heavenly.
“Well,” you might ask yourself, “Now that I’ve satisfied my hunger and thirst, what else is there to do in Kerrville?”
Fortunately for you, there are a few arts and music offerings within walking distance. (Yes, you can actually park and walk. And, while we’re on the topic, if you can’t get parking on the street, which is indeed difficult during the midday lunch rush, you can always find spaces in the municipal — and FREE — parking deck on Water Street and accessible from Clay Street.)
For white glove entertainment, plan ahead and buy tickets to a show at The Cailloux Theater on Main Street just east of Washington. Their offerings include:
- MUSIC // Everything from a “Mixtape ’80s Tribute” to Bob Wills’ Texas Playboys — you can’t miss them! — to The Symphony of the Hills to The Four Italian Tenors to John Davidson.
- THEATER // The VK Garage on Washington Street is an intimate setting getting you up close to the actors and their craft. Little Shop of Horrors will be performed at The Cailloux.
- ART // Be sure to visit the Kerr Arts & Cultural Center on the corner of Earl Garrett and Main and, across the street, Slate Gray Gallery, along with Rivers Edge Gallery over on Water Street. (Be sure to check the hours of each, since they don’t necessarily follow typical retail hours.)
- SOON // The Arcadia, closed for decades, has been re-envisioned and will open as a live music venue this summer. Kerrvillians are excited about that one!
I wish I had better news about the shops downtown, but currently Water Street between Earl Garrett and Sidney Baker is a bit of a wasteland, except for Baublit’s Jewelers, which does excellent work on watches, and The Humble Fork at the other end. If you’re truly looking for a lot of walking around and shopping, you’d be better served in Fredericksburg, about 20 minutes east. (I know I sound like a traitor, but just looking out for ya.)
That said, there are some notable exceptions nearby:
- Schreiner Goods // On Earl Garrett Street across from where you had tacos and coffee. Upscale but also hip and quite stylish.
- Wolfmueller’s Books // On Earl Garrett (used to be on Water Street). What classic bookstore isn’t worth perusing and picking up a couple of worn copies of your favorites?
- Sunrise Antique Mall // On Water between Earl Garrett and Washington has some interesting pieces and knickknacks.
Not to speculate too much, but my guess is that there will be new eatery and adult beverage options along Water Street once the Arcadia re-opens, which its website says should be in early July.
There’s plenty to do in Kerrville!
While the previous section might have given you the impression that there’s not much going on for the pedestrian in Kerrville, that’s not the case and it will be even better come Fall 2020.
The Kerrville 2050 Plan, which had broad support, will be making our small (but growing) town even more vibrant…in a good way.
We hope to see you downtown soon!