Cochineal, Marfa, Texas
Alexandra Gates' restaurant, Cochineal, has been on our radar since we first visited for dinner in January of 2019. She was nominated for a James Beard award in 2020.
Last year when we made a pass through West Texas, we happened to be there when Cochineal was closed. Of course the pandemic created a whole other problem for fine dining restaurants.
An aside and a particular quirk of visiting Marfa we find is the hit-or-miss nature of whether a particular business may, or may not, be open. This time, for example, one of Melanie's favorite shops where she's found great post cards was closed for "winter break" on Saturday of the Martin Luther King Holiday weekend. So it goes.
Marfa is just interesting enough given the art scene and good food and a couple of nice hotels and El Cosmico (which offers dry camping for $15.00 a night per person with a few amenities thrown in) and tourists who come from all over the world to experience the wonderful weirdness this remote town of about 1,700 souls offers. Some 40,000 people visit Marfa in any given year. For the record, we camped at the Marfa Lights Viewing Area just outside of town where we've camped several times in the past.
Approaching Marfa this year we are on our way to Tucson, Arizona for what will be one of Melanie's last appearances in an official capacity as executive director for the Episcopal Peace Fellowship. She will attend services in Green Valley, Arizona later this month at Saint Francis in the Valley.
We'd been traveling every day for the past three days when we arrived in Marfa and one of Melanie's first suggestions was dinner at Cochineal. We quickly requested a reservation via email and heard back from them requesting a deposit for the Prix Fixe Menu they were serving on Thursday, Friday and Saturday.
We roamed around Marfa during the day on Saturday, looking for post cards, checking out a few of the shops and having a drink at the bar of the Hotel St. George where they also have a really fine art collection on the walls of lobby and bar.
We then parked on the street very near the entrance to Cochineal, Melanie worked a bit more, I streamed a show I've been watching and we then dressed for dinner and walked in.
Dinner exceeded my expectations which were already high. While I remember a very fine meal in 2019, dinner in 2023 was exquisite and one of the best we've had in quite a while. Service was personable and great.
Highlights for me were the House Artisan Bread service with Miso Butter and a Truffle Egg Salad, the Antelope tartar, and Wild Boar with Buckwheat Noodles and Cultivated Mushrooms. Dessert, Japanese Soufflé Cake with Mascarpone Dried Cherry Confiture was amazing.
I also ordered the wine parings which Melanie and I shared with each course.
When visiting Marfa, you now know where to dine.
La Fonda On Main, San Antonio
Sometimes a restaurant bears mentioning again. La Fonda is that good.
We've had dinner and brunch there four or five times as we've passed through San Antonio. Each time has been a treat.
The food and service are always impeccable. Highly recommended.
Shiro, San Antonio, Texas
Our friends, Steve and Kim, live in San Antonio and we like catching up with them as we pass through the area. Steve and Melanie attended law school together at Vanderbilt.
Because of COVID we haven't seen them for a few years so we were happy they consented to meet us for dinner. Having access to locals and their knowledge of the restaurant scene is a plus.
Their daughter who now lives on the west coast was in town recently and recommended to them they dine at Shiro located on the North River Walk and just down the street from San Antonio Museum of Art.
If you're in the mood for some very fine sushi, Shiro is the place in San Antonio. Whether single pieces or their very innovative sushi rolls, you'll not be disappointed.
The atmosphere is great and we had a most wonderful time catching up with our friends.
Since we've been on the road, we've found it difficult at times to get our Chinese fix. We were spoiled as we left Birmingham because of Red Pearl located in West Homewood and many places we've tried around the county are not up to Red Pearl standards.
Looking for lunch after she found and received a new haircut (also hit or miss for her on the road), I found Best Quality Daughter near The Pearl district in San Antonio.
I made a reservation for us, but it was a late lunch for us so by the time we finished nobody but us remained in the outside patio area. Still, Best Quality Daughter seems like a popular spot so reservations are recommended.
Melanie had Curry Shrimp Fried Rice, I had Mighty Good Mushroom Co. Chow Mein. Both delicious and both generous portions.
The Pearl is a great place to explore, the River Walk is nearby and there are many great shops and restaurants nearby.
Melanie and Steven