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Shop downtown Llano, where Old West meets new

The Llano County Courthouse square offers food, coffee, snacks, art, gifts, antiques, clothing, and more. It’s all steeped in history and local culture for a true taste of Texas. Photo by Dakota Morrissiey

The Old West and modern Texas converge in the heart of the Hill Country in the city of Llano on the Llano River. This blend of old and new Texas includes a world-famous barbecue restaurant, fine dining on wild game, antique barn finds, trendy Western wear, art galleries, craft-distilled vodka, a scenic river, historic structures, a world-class rodeo, and an international rock-stacking competition. It’s an unbelievable and unique opportunity for shopping, food, and fun.

My own Saturday on the town was greeted by a spring shower, but Llano’s courthouse square was still thrumming with activity despite gray skies and wet pavement.

Having lived in Llano for a few years, I'd say the best way to start your day is at Fuel Coffee House in the heart of the town. It’s the stomping grounds for both Llano locals and travelers passing through. Llano is still a word-of-mouth community, and a quick conversation with the barista or an old-timer reading the paper can give you more information than you can find online. If you're lucky, you'll catch some live music while sipping your flat white or double-shot latte.

After a morning cup of joe, head right next door to Texana Outfitters and Luna Blue, owned and operated by mother-daughter team Brenda Mason and Chyna Mason, Llano natives with deep roots in the community.

Texana features Texan-made goods and high-quality clothing, jewelry, and outdoor gear. Luna Blue specializes in hip fashion and down-to-earth quality goods for women.

Annie Brown (left) and Anne Lorimer finished climbing Enchanted Rock in the rain and were getting ready to make their way back to Dallas when they stopped for a little shopping at Texana Outfitters on the courthouse square in downtown Llano. Photo by Dakota Morrissiey


The Masons set up shop in 2005, and they're a welcome surprise to travelers passing through. I chatted with Annie Brown and Anne Lorimer while they shopped in Texana. The two rock climbers had just tackled Enchanted Rock, and they decided to stop in town for a coffee before heading back to Dallas. They didn't plan on shopping, but the quaintness of the downtown area drew them in. They seemed surprised to find a place like Texana in Llano.

"Without planning, this is what adds to the trip!" Brown said.

Whether or not you're in the market for world-class artwork, you must stop by Gridiron Gallery at 112 E. Main St. Jack Moss is a prolific Western painter who is set up on the square downtown. Usually, he is traveling the country for art shows, but I managed to catch him while he was in his gallery painting a longhorn watercolor. He gave some insight into the unique qualities of Llano.

Jack Moss paints a watercolor of a Texas longhorn in his showroom, the Gridiron Gallery, in downtown Llano. Moss travels the country selling his work at Western art shows. Photo by Dakota Morrissiey


"There are still working ranches, there are still working cowboys, and we have a major rodeo arena,” he said. “It's still a cowboy town.”

If you're looking for antiques and shabby chic decor, Llano has several intriguing and inspiring options. Material Things on the square carries a sweet collection of homey finds. Across the bridge, you’ll find Whimseys, a large and superbly curated antique shop with everything from barn doors to clawfoot bathtubs. For the more adventurous, check out RATS, a record store and shop of “things strange.”

At this point, you're going to start wondering where to have lunch or dinner, or maybe a rest and a drink.

Llano is best known beyond its borders for Cooper's Old Time Pit Barbecue, and if you're willing to hop in the car and head down the road, you can be there in a couple of minutes. At Cooper’s, you’re greeted at the pit just outside the front door where you’ll pick your protein right off the grill.

On the square itself, you can stop at Gio's, a shockingly good Italian restaurant you don’t usually find in a small town. Another Llano institution, Stonewalls, serves up classic pizza, wings, and burgers.

Llano River Creamery keeps everything cool with its ice cream varieties, the perfect place for dessert.

There are some surprising options if you're looking for a drink. On Main Street, you’ll find the Llano Craft Distillery tasting room, Llano Beer Company, and Joe's Bar & Grill.

If you're willing to make the trek across the bridge, you'll find Badu 1891, a historic building converted into a restaurant known across the Hill Country for its fine dining. The outdoor seating is incredible, and it is maybe the best spot to watch a sunset in town. Many of its menu specialities feature wild game and produce from its own garden.

The Llano River sets the town apart. A visit to its shores should be part of any day trip to fish, skip stones, stack rocks, or even pan for gold.

I have only mentioned a fraction of what's available in Llano, most of which is within walking distance or just a short drive. You'll have to visit and see it all for yourself.

If you're interested in more information on Llano, here is a breakdown on where to stop, shop, eat, and grab a drink.

STOPS

Redtop Jail

400 Oatman St.

Historic and haunted jail built in the Romanesque Revival style.

Llano County Courthouse

801 Ford St.

If you're interested in historic architecture, the courthouse was built in 1892 and it's in excellent shape, still serving as the active seat of county business.

Grenwelge Park

199 E. Haynie St.

A great place for a picnic. Looks down on the Llano River and is surrounded by rock sculptures and earth art from the Llano Earth Art Festival, usually held each spring.

Badu Park

300 Legion Drive

Take the family to swim in the Llano River or have a barbecue.

SHOPPING

Texana Outfitters

110 E. Main St.

Hip, high-quality clothing for men and women, handmade jewelry, Texan-made goods, outdoor gear, and laid-back atmosphere.

Luna Blue

104 E. Main St.

Somehow both upscale and down to earth with quality goods for women and girls and a touch of spirituality.

Monroe's On Main

107 W. Main St.

Country girl chic shopping for women and girls and in-touch style. Also has a shop on Main Street in Marble Falls.

Calamity and Grace

809 Berry St.

An art supply shop that offers classes and courses, family-friendly, and endearing quirkiness.

Material Things

122 E. Main St.

Homey antique shop downtown, interesting pieces, and lots of love.

Charlie's Store

820 Ford St.

Offers modern home decor in a Llano institution that has rolled with the times since 1936.

Whimseys at the Bridge

305 Bessemer Ave.

Unique antiques, vintage furniture, and decor — an impressive selection.

RATS Records and Things Strange

608 Public Square

Records, books, comics, posters, and quirky finds.

The Wild Weed Artisan Gift Shoppe

830A Ford St.

Herbs and natural decor.

Enchanted Rocks and Jewelry

805 Berry St.

A world-class geological wonderland, the Enchanted Rock Shop is known around the world for its collection.

RESTAURANTS

Badu 1891

601 Bessemer Ave.

Fine dining, excellent outdoor venue, and a full bar. Serves truly Texan fare from its own garden and local wild game. Always something seasonal on the menu.

Gio's Italian Restaurant

101 W. Main St.

Authentic Italian with a full bar.

Stonewalls Pizza, Wings & Things

109 W. Main St.

Small-town cuisine of awesome burgers and pizza; an affordable, local hangout.

Rosita's Mexican Restaurant

101 E. Grayson St.

Delicious Mexican food and margaritas in a beautiful space.

La Hacienda de Jalisco

303 E. Young St.

Amazing Mexican cuisine where the old-timers like to eat. Serves the best breakfast burritos I've ever had.

Tommy's Mesquite Flamed Pizza

312 Bessemer Ave.

Only open on Friday and Saturday; excellent outdoor seating.

The Hungry Hunter

702 W. Young St.

Classic American diner that's open early and serves a great buffet.

The Country Fryer

910 W. Young St.

An honest-to-goodness greasy spoon. Reminds me of home. You are guaranteed to be called darlin' before you leave.

BARS

Joe's Bar & Grill

107 W. Main St.

Always something going on. Lots of pool tables, lots of town pride, and a full menu of burgers, sandwiches, wings, sliders, and cold draft beer.

Llano Beer Co.

105 E. Main St.

A brewpub with dozens of varieties of beer in a hip modern space with beautiful murals for a relaxing place to hang. Offers small plates and snacks as well as local wines.

Llano Craft Distillery

103 E. Main St.

A compact and elegant tasting room with high-quality vodka and cocktails. Guaranteed to meet someone interesting.

The Granite O

410 E. Young St.

“Dive” right in with the barflies and locals. Right on the edge of town. This is the real deal. Allows smoking.

editor@thepicayune.com

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