Michael Martin Murphey’s singing rings with the sincerity and authenticity that many find lacking in pop country these days. Nowhere is that more apparent than during Murphey’s annual Cowboy Christmas tour, a series of holiday shows throughout the Southwest that feature a mix of traditional Christmas songs, a few Murphey classics, and cowboy poetry and storytelling.
With its long porches and backdrop of rugged cliffs, the Limpia looks like an extension of the nearby Fort Davis cavalry outpost. Campbell and Bance Contractors built the hotel in 1912 of locally quarried igneous rock and white wooden trim.
The Century Bar & Grill is located on the ground floor of the beautifully remodeled 1928 Holland Hotel. The long bar in the restaurant’s front room overlooks the busy sidewalk via an expanse of windows, and the whole place hums with warm energy. Vintage Western paintings and an iron chandelier boasting antique electrical insulators add to the eclectic ambiance. Seated in a booth facing the open kitchen, we enjoyed an appetizer of grilled quail in sour cherry sauce before digging into a salad adorned with pepitas, crumbled goat cheese, and Texas ruby-red grapefruit sections.
At Cow Dog, local foodie and multimedia artist Alan Vannoy mans the window and stove himself, taking orders and turning out a wonderfully wicked assortment of griddle-seared, gourmet hot dogs. Alan soon handed us paper plates piled high with a lunch we’re still talking about months later. Mine, the “Artisan” dog, sat beneath a smear of apple-apricot chutney and melted Tillamook sharp cheddar atop a bun spread with white-wine mustard. Marshall sighed happily over his “German,” which was adorned with sauerkraut, a slice of bacon, a sprinkling of caraway seeds, and a hint of spicy mustard.
Unusual in Texas today, the Holland Hotel in Alpine not only grew up along the railroad tracks but to this day sits within a stone’s throw of an active passenger depot . On the hotel’s ground floor, the bay windows of the Century Bar look upon Holland Avenue and the railroad tracks that bisect the town. Every once in a while, you’ll see passengers from the nearby Amtrak depot scurry by, seizing a moment to stretch their legs before jumping back on the train to chug across West Texas.
The Old West comes to life daily at 11:30 a.m. and 4 p.m. when the Longhorns of the Fort Worth Herd mosey down Exchange Avenue in the Fort Worth Stockyards National Historic District. The mesmerizing sight is worth a pause from shopping for cowboy boots at Fincher’s White Front Western Wear (where materials range from cowhide leather to exotic skins like snake and alligator) or browsing the jewelry, belts, hats, and apparel at Maverick Fine Western Wear. Visitors also flock to the shops at Stockyards Station, which include a general store, hot-sauce retailer, leather trading company, spice and tea store, children’s gift shops, and a vintage record store.
Critics and art-lovers tend to admire Fort Worth’s three major art museums as much for their architecture, all by high-profile architects, as for the artworks they house. Philip Johnson designed the Amon Carter Museum of American Art, calling it the building of his career; Tadao Ando, the Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth (one of his few designs in the United States); and Louis Kahn, the Kimbell Art Museum (generally considered to have the finest light of any museum anywhere for viewing art).
Now 80 years strong, Joe T’s remains a larger-than-life Texas legend. Grown from a tiny dining room in the Garcia family home to a sprawling series of lively rooms and gardens that can seat up to 1,000 at a time, this institution has customers lined up and down the block several times a week, waiting for a table.
The 24 storybook sculptures gracing downtown Abilene make a playful backdrop for the Children’s Art and Literacy Festival. The Abilene Arts Council launched the project in 2012 with the installation of a bronze Cat in the Hat in Everman Park, next to the restored Texas and Pacific Railroad Depot. A new sculpture is unveiled each year during the festival. Perched atop a downtown building, a brontosaurus in a baseball cap smiles over an orange VW Beetle. Nearby, a bronze Santa Claus keeps benevolent watch over a street corner, and a duck rides a bike near the railroad tracks. Part of Abilene’s state-designated status as the “Storybook Capital of Texas,” the public sculptures now bolsters Abilene’s claim as the “Storybook Capital of America.” .