What to Eat, Drink and Do in Johnson City, Texas Hill Country

Texas Hill Country is no stranger to tourism. With its stunning scenery, history, and wineries popping up over the years, it has been a hot spot for those looking to see the natural beauty of Texas along with the chance of a good red glass.

While Fredericksburg is the bustling tourist anchor to Hill Country, one small Texas town raises its profile: Johnson City.

With a population of less than 3,000, Johnson City is now home to new restaurants and bars alongside existing attractions. It didn’t hurt to put it on the “290 Wine Trail” in Texas, which starts in town and runs along Highway 290 before ending in Fredericksburg—there are many tasting rooms and wineries in Blanco County.

While Johnson City isn’t as packed with tasting rooms as Fredericksburg, it’s well worth a stop for unique wine discoveries and a cooler, cooler atmosphere. Here’s how to spend a great weekend in Johnson City.

Cool new places to eat and drink

Croissant winery and tasting room

Natural wine lovers, this is the place for you. The father-and-son team behind Crowson Winery uses a low-interference approach to create bite-sized wines, which means you won’t find yeast or added sugars in their bottles. All production takes place in the same building as the tasting room, where dishes from Syrah, Mourvèdre, Malvasia Blanca and Rosé are served. Just set up a time to savor your text or email.

look for it: 102 N Ave G, Johnson City, TX 78636 (830-225-8880)
Hours: Daily from 10 am to 7 pm

Johnson City Coffee Co. offers. Quality coffee and pastries to Texas Hill Country.

Johnson City Coffee Company

Johnson City Coffee Company

Sip an espresso before a long day of exploring at this local coffee shop. Johnson City Coffee Co. With Dripping Springs’ Great Goods Coffee Company, named 2021 Micro Roaster of the Year by Roast Magazine. A shaded patio keeps the heat away during the summer, and there’s free Wi-Fi and plenty of outlets if you need to get some work done. Or, if you’re in a hurry, take advantage of the convenient shop window.

look for it: 108 W Main St Suite 821, Johnson City, TX 78636
Hours: Monday – Friday 6:30 AM – 5 PM; Saturday – Sunday 7:30 AM – 5 PM

Nice n easy

Nice in Easy is one of Johnson’s newest watering holes, but the building has been a fixture downtown since 1917. Legend has it that the site served alcohol in the 1870s, and that 12-year-old Lyndon Johnson before the presidency sampled From the “medicinal” wine there. Now in 2020, Nice N Easy offers craft cocktails, wine, beer, and ready-to-snack Texas classics like Frito pie, chips, guacamole, and chili dogs. Sample Yokefellow beer or Lightsome wine, produced by the bar owners.

look for it: 106 N Nugent Ave, Johnson City, TX 78636
Hours: Friday 4 pm – midnight; Saturday noon to midnight; Sunday noon – 10 pm; Monday 4-10 pm

The Parlor by Southold Farm + Basement

Hill Country winery, Southold Farm & Cellar, opened Johnson City’s wine bar in 2019. The wine is made from grapes grown in Texas with a low-interference winemaking approach. Southold’s menu includes a mix of Italian and French varieties, mostly from the Rhone Valley, among others. Enjoy a glass or an entire bottle along with snacks within the modern space indoors or in the backyard.

look for it: 109 N Nugent Ave, Johnson City, TX 78636
Hours: Thursday – Saturday 11 am – 6 pm

Southold Farm & Cellar has opened a wine bar in Johnson City to showcase the winery's juice.
Southold Farm & Cellar has opened a wine bar in Johnson City to showcase the winery’s juice.

Southwold farm and cellar

Other Food and Wine

Brian’s at 290

Chef Bryan Gillenwater focuses on Hill Country cuisine—think veal schnitzel, Prime Angus ribeye and smoked duck breast tartine—and emphasizes live-fire cooking, going back to the time he first discovered his love of cooking when a Boy Scout guarded a campfire. Since it opened in 2016, Bryans of 290 has been a favorite with locals and visitors alike. Reservations are recommended.

look for it: 300 E Main St, Johnson City, TX 78636 (830-868-2424)
Hours: Tuesday – Saturday 5-9 pm

Louis wines

Texan winemaker Doug Lewis works with grapes that are unique to Texas-grown, and don’t produce much from other vineyards, including the Portuguese cultivars Tinta Cão and Touriga Nacional in the Round Mountain Reserve red blend. Lewis Wines’ quiet outdoor tasting room offers views of the Pedernales River Basin.

Lewis Wines makes some of the best wines in the Texas Hill Country.
Lewis Wines makes some of the best wines in the Texas Hill Country.

Emma Palter

look for it: 3209 US-290, Johnson City, TX 78636 (512-987-0660)
Hours: Thursday – Monday 10:30 AM – 5 PM

Pecan Street Brewing

Across from the courtroom in Town Square, Pecan Street Brewing is a hotspot in Johnson City, with good reason. The brewery calls home the old Blanco County Supply and Hardware building, which was once an informal meeting place for locals that day. Now, you’ve got your usual favourites—pizza, burgers, and salads—along with beer brewed on site and wine made in Texas. Look out for live music on Fridays and Saturdays and the pet-friendly Bergart Nursery (but call ahead to make sure they aren’t booked for an event).

look for it: 106 E Pecan Dr, Johnson City, TX 78636 (830-868-2500)
Hours: Monday to Thursday from 11 am to 8 pm; Friday – Sunday 11 am – 9 pm

Between wine tasting and meals

Art galleries, art galleries

Johnson City has many art galleries, most of which are located within a stone’s throw of each other. Smith Gallery showcases the work of professional and amateur photographers, Art Beat Studio & Gallery has art for purchase in many media, and local artist Lee Casbeer displays his detailed paintings and murals in his own gallery.

science windmill

If you’re traveling with kids—or some enthusiastic adult amateur scientist—the Science Museum in a feed mill built in the 1880s has interactive exhibits focused on STEM, a greenhouse for aquaponics, and a science and arts park. Science Mill opened in 2015, with the goal of giving any child the opportunity to see themselves as a future scientist. Picnics are welcome at the tables in the garden, too, if you’d like to dine alongside the African tortoises you call home.

The Johnson City Science Mill opened in 2015 in an old grinding mill.
The Johnson City Science Mill opened in 2015 in an old grinding mill.

Catherine Parker

look for it: 101 S Lady Bird Ln, Johnson City, TX 78636 (844-263-6405)
Hours: Wed – Sat 10am-4pm; Sunday Noon – 4 PM

Texas Vintage Motorcycle Museum

Motorcycle enthusiast Gordon Massey moved to Johnson City from Houston in late 2021, where he purchased the former home of the Echo art gallery that had previously worked as an agent for Ford in the 1930s. Motorcyclists and enthusiasts of all ages can check out Massey’s collection of more than 70 classic motorcycles from the 1950s, ’60s and ’70s he has made over the years.

look for it: 100 N Nugent Ave, Johnson City, TX 78636
Hours: Thursday – Sunday 11 am – 6 pm

An adventure outside Johnson City

Lyndon B Johnson State Park and Historic Site

Texas Hill Country has close relations with President Lyndon Johnson. Stonewall is his hometown and Johnson City is his home and final resting place. It is worth seeing its ancient land while you are there. Start at the visitor center for a self-guided tour of the LBJ Ranch, which includes views of the Pedernales River, LBJ’s birthplace, the one-room school he attended in 1912, the Johnson family cemetery where he is buried, and the Texas White House, where LBJ and Lady Bird lived It has hosted leaders from all over the world for over 20 years. It’s also a sight to behold during bluebonnet season, which should come as no surprise – Lady Bird Johnson was known for her love of wildflowers.

look for it: 199 Park Road 52, Stonewall, TX 78671 (830-644-2252)
Hours: Daily from 8:30 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Pedernales Falls State Park is a popular hiking spot in the Texas Hill Country.
Pedernales Falls State Park is a popular hiking spot in the Texas Hill Country.

Texas Parks and Wildlife Department

Pedernales Falls State Park

The 5,200-acre park has hiking, biking, and horseback riding trails, campgrounds, scenic views, and of course waterfalls, and areas for swimming or fishing. Bring a picnic lunch to enjoy on the limestone slabs next to the peaceful swimming spots – just don’t leave anything behind. Today’s tickets are $6 per person 13 or older.

look for it: 2585 ​​Park Rd 6026, Johnson City, TX 78636 (830-868-7304)
Hours: Daily from 8 am to 10 pm

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