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Hico Hoppin'

Shopping, dining and more in downtown Hico
Written by June Naylor. Photographs by June Naylor.

HillCountryDwelling2June Naylor’s story on the new Midland Hotel in Hico urges you to make tracks to experience the inn’s hospitality. Once you’re settled into the Hamilton County town, there’s plenty to do and see and eat right outside the hotel’s front door. Here’s a look at some of downtown Hico’s offerings.

Read June Naylor’s story on the new Midland Hotel in Hico.

Shopping finds

Hico’s main drag is Pecan Street, a wide avenue with a landscaped, park-like median running down its center and historic buildings on either side, most filled with shops to browse. The Midland Hotel sits on the east side, with shops like Sugar Moon Antiques (101 S. Pecan St.) selling European and American antiques, along with a casual women’s clothing line called Flax. A few doors down, there’s Hico Popcorn Works (117 S. Pecan St.) making delicious flavored popcorns.

hicoilicoAcross the street, Blue Star Trading (112 S. Pecan St.) is famous for its home furnishings, artwork, jewelry, clothing and books. Newer to town, Heartland Atelier (102 N. Pecan St.) is a flower shop, a place to buy Texana antiques and a studio for learning to work with chalk paint. Next door, Hill Country Dwellings (118 N. Pecan St.) sells modern country furniture, home accessories, jewelry, books and my favorite T-shirt, the V-neck grey shirt emblazoned with the greeting, “Hico – I Like-O!”

Barely three blocks from the heart of downtown, Wiseman House Chocolates (406 W. Grubbs St.) is a two-fold destination aiming to spoil you silly. First and foremost, it’s a shop selling handcrafted goods from the talented team led by chocolatier Kevin Wenzel. It’s also a lovely retail space unfolding within a colorful, renovated Victorian home, with gifts like tea towels and throw pillows to flower vases and candles.

WisemanHouse5

Great eats and drinks

A newer lunch and snack spot, Eis (202 N. Pecan St.) is the creation of Jennifer Jones and Wes Lunsford, who also own the charming Upstairs Inn — which is literally upstairs from this shop. Sourcing goods from local farmers, cheese makers, bakers and other food purveyors, Eis offers a killer pimento cheese sandwich with tomato jam on grilled bread, delicious turkey melt and — only on Friday — a smoked prime rib sandwich on toasty sourdough that I dream about. Ice creams, cookies and cakes (some are gluten-free) come from nearby pastry chefs and sweets makers.

Next door, the same proprietors run the Pecan Street Drink Shoppe (202 N. Pecan St.) selling Texas wines, beers and spirits, as well as popular brands from everywhere. I like stopping in on weekends, when there’s also a tasting of local cheeses to go with those libations. Look here also for bar gifts and wine accessories, and be prepared to greet sweet shop dogs Stevie and Pinch.

The venerable Koffee Kup Family Restaurant (300 2nd St.) is short walk west from downtown and the place most likely to be crowded at breakfast and lunch. You can bridge the two meals with a chicken-fried steak topped with fried eggs and served with hashbrowns and biscuits with gravy, plus a homemade doughnut or slice of pie for dessert.

TwoClayBirds2Another minute or two north of downtown, Two Clay Birds Farm & Garden Market (708A N. 2nd St.) is a new market whose tagline is, “Good food makes your mouth sing!” A farmstand stocking local produce, the shop also keeps a great supply of olive oils and vinegars, teas, pickles, jams and honeys from local makers. I like the handmade aprons, too, as well as cookbooks helping me put that local produce on my dinner plate.

Making exercise fun

Sometimes the only way to justify all that happy indulgence is to manage a little calorie-burning activity. Right in Hico’s downtown, next to Heartland Atelier, there’s Flacas Fitness & Brews (110 N. Pecan St) with a schedule of spin cycling, kick-boxing, hip hop dance, yoga and Pilates classes in its studio at the rear of the building. After you’ve sweated a bit, Flacas rewards you with smoothies, wraps, salads, quiche, beer and wine, served in the friendly café at the front of the building.

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