Marfa, Texas: Rosie on the Road

marfa texas prada
marfa, texas

When you tell someone you're going to Marfa, a teeny tiny town in far West Texas, you either get met with a response of excitement from someone who has been or has always wanted to go, or a "da fuck?" from someone who's never heard of it. 

So, if you don't know, Marfa is a town about seven hours west of Austin. It's in the middle of nowhere, like, literally. It was founded as a railroad water stop sometime in the early 1880s, and thanks to an artist from New York named Donald Judd, it's been an arts hub since the 1970s and 80s, and is now one of the hippest places in the country. If you've seen the show or movie West World, well then you kinda already get it. It's a place where people go to play cowboy, but they brought with them a taste for avocado toast and dairy free lattes and Aesop hand soap and shop windows perfect for Instagram and well-rounded wine lists and hip street style fit for fashion week and some breathtaking art that we wish we were equipped to better digest. 

At the same time, it's still a very small town. So small that while we were here there was a wedding and literally every shop keeper and rando passerby in town was talking about it. So small that even though the three or four main dinner restaurants are extremely hip, they close at 9 p.m., even on a Saturday. So small that the guy we worked out next to at the gym was also seated next to us at a bar and also behind us in the same tiny organic grocery store we were shopping in. Actually, now that I write that last one I'm realizing he may have legitimately been stalking us.

That's fine.

In short: Marfa is really really weird in a way that we both enjoyed.

We'd recommend you spend just about 3 full days here, preferably Thursday - Sunday as pretty much everything is closed Monday - Wednesday. 

SCHEDULING

A lot of shops in town close or have limited hours for winter and open back up sometime in March, so if you're trying to check out all the cute shops and restaurants - which you should - its best to avoid visiting November through February. 

For ideal weather and availability, go March - October (though be aware that June - August will be v v v hot).

SLEEPING

If you're traveling with your camper in tow, check out Tumble In RV Park. It's literally one minute from downtown, reasonably priced (something like $30/night) and the owners were accommodating and even had their cell phone numbers listed for any last minute questions or needs.

If you didn't think ahead and renovate your own vintage camper (lol), you should look into staying at El Cosmico. They've got teepees and Airstreams and more traditional lodging and it is all so damn cute it hurts. Try booking at least a month out.

The Saint George Hotel and Paisano Hotel were also very cute and seemed popular, though we didn't get a chance to spend much time in them so not much to say on that front.

marfa texas rv park
vintage camper bed

EATING

Yes, this is easy. Always call ahead to confirm hours (even if they're posted online) because the people in this town give no shits and will close randomly - it's charming, ya just gotta go with it.

Do Your Thing Cafe for breakfast and coffee. They have coffee as good as any major city and a... weirdly inspiring food selection for breakfast? Pastel colored pastries and pop tarts and also frittatas and a WHOLE MENU of different toasts. The toasts are thick slices of ... wonderful ... sourdough bread that come with a variety of toppings. GET THE TOASTS. 

Marfa Burrito for breakfast. OK so actually they were closed when we went so nothing to review here - just letting you know multiple folks raved about their cheap *authentic* burritos. Let us know what you think if you go!

Squeeze for juice or a smoothie. This random little Swedish cafe has got light breakfast and lunch foods, but where it's really at is their fresh juices and smoothies. If you're like us and like to do a protein shake after a workout, they've got the option to add whey protein to your smoothie. Do that.

The Water Stop for brunch or lunch. We are honestly a bit unsure what to describe the style of food as - but basically just... good? If you're from New Orleans and have been to the Sneaky Pickle, it's like that. A lot of incredibly fresh stuff but also some heavier unhealthy stuff that is done so well you really wouldn't expect thin hipsters to be behind the counter. We got the special of the day, chicken and waffles, and Matt said it was the best chicken and waffles he'd ever had.

Stellina for dinner. Light Mediterranean food and a great wine and beer selection all set in one of the quaintest dimly lit restaurants in town. Seating is first come first serve, so maybe try going a bit early on a Friday or Saturday night. The menu changes constantly, but if they've got the baked feta - GET HER.

Al Campo for dinner. Kind of an all American restaurant on the range experience, but hip and cozy and amazing. If it's nice out, sit in the covered patio! You'll be bathed in warm string lights and feel the cool desert air. Sounds cheesy but it's freaking dope. Try a few of their veggie sides and splurge on one or two of their larger meat dishes. We got the half chicken and the ribeye and both were just... so... *faints*.

 Chicken & Waffles @ The Water Stop

Chicken & Waffles @ The Water Stop

 Half Chicken @ Al Campo

Half Chicken @ Al Campo

 EastCiders - our favorite affordable hard cider in Texas

EastCiders - our favorite affordable hard cider in Texas


SHOPPING

So there is like no shortage of shopping to do in Marfa. A lot of it is kinda expensive but you're on vacation so just delete your Chase Banking app and go for it! 

Cobra Rock is a fantastic little spot with boots and jackets and a gorgeous selection of lady's apparel. Freda, which has a store in New Orleans as well, is a vintage clothing shop set in a tiny little building and looks real cute - pretty much only stuff for ladies / folks who wear femme clothing. Raba is a vintage shop with a bunch of funky denim and dresses and jackets. They've also got a nice selection of random little thingies to browse. Right next door is Dirt, a truck full of vintage clothing and nick nacks and also a tiny greenhouse of cacti. Definitely worth the visit. Communitie for hats, jackets, throws, and ponchos all fit for a damn Southwestern dream and some gems to get your life in order and your chakras balanced. This place is capital 'C' CUTE. 

 Cobra Rock Apparrel 

Cobra Rock Apparrel 

 Throw blanket from Communitie in Marfa

Throw blanket from Communitie in Marfa

 Raba Vintage Clothing

Raba Vintage Clothing

 Dirt Rock Shop

Dirt Rock Shop

 Dirt Rock Shop

Dirt Rock Shop


SEEING

Honey... honeeeeeey. There's so much to see in Marfa. From sunsets to galleries to rando art installations - you're def going to have a whole lot of moments perfect for Instagram, or like, actually enjoy (CrAzY RiGhT?!). You just gotta know the rights spots to find it all.

As for nature, there are mountains and sunsets and mystery lights. There may also be cool sunrises but we have a strict no-waking-up-before-8-am policy so we can't really speak on that front. While we didn't actually go see the "Marfa Lights" ourselves (we're bad at planning and it fell through the cracks) - they're apparently really cool. Although some people say they don't actually exist. So, take that for what you will. 

For art, check out the Chinati and Judd Foundations and Ballroom Marfa. That's about enough art stuff to keep you busy for a solid day or so - and for some reason there is something weirdly fun about viewing art in the middle of the desert.

There's also, of course, Prada Marfa. This isn't actually a Prada, but an art installation, and it's v popular. It sits about 30 minutes west of the city, so block off about an hour and a half to go check it out. On the way you'll pass through a teeny tiny city psuedo-ghost town called Valentine and you'll wonder aloud "where the hell are we?" - that means you're close. A lot of people want to see this thing, so keep in mind you might have to take your cheesy selfies in front of other people doing the same thing. 

 Ballroom Marfa

Ballroom Marfa

marfa, texas
 Prada Marfa

Prada Marfa

marfa texas
marfa texas

And that's that! Now we're headed to New Mexico for some White Sands and Santa Fe action! Thanks for coming along!

xoxo Matt & Beau