Gristmill River Restaurant is Good Texas Comfort Food with a View
Dining at Gristmill River Restaurant in Gruene (pronounced Green), Texas offers good food with a nod into Texas history. If you like casual dining, a great view and some history to boot, this is the place. Situated on the banks of the Guadalupe River just outside New Braunfels between Austin and San Antonio, Gruene is a quaint Texas town. Built in 1878 as the Gruene Cotton Gin, the Gristmill River Restaurant & Bar, as it is known today, is a multi-level restaurant that boasts beautiful views of the hill country and Guadalupe River. This is a premiere Texas attraction for visitors who wish to come in for a Texas brew or craft margarita, some comfort food and a quiet view of the great outdoors.
Stopping in at the start of Spring Break meant crowds looking for food, shopping and Texas country music. I was lucky enough to be seated at one of the patio tables in the River Grove section overlooking the river under a grove of live oak trees. Even with the river being full to its banks and a little chilly out, there were still a few brave souls tubing on the swift moving waters. As summer nears, the river will be full of tubers floating down the river, all tied together like colonies of ants, ice chests included, trying to stay cool in the Texas heat. It’s what people do in Gruene on most days. They also stop into the Gristmill for a bite into history.
After the original cotton gin burned down in 1922, the only remaining structure was the 3-story brick boiler room, now the Gristmill River Restaurant & Bar which opened in 1977. The restaurant started serving steaks and hamburgers out of their small kitchen. These two items are still customer favorites on their menu today. Their current menu also includes popular Texas favorites like fried catfish, chicken fried steak, grilled chicken, huge sandwiches, soup and salads.
Though the small rain drops kept things cool yet soggy, it wasn’t enough to make us want to leave the view. Besides our bellies were growling for some comfort food and cocktails. Starting off, we went for the Texas sized Onion Rings. They come 6, 12, or 24 to an order and we were cautioned to go 6 cause they are huge. Glad we listened! We were easily filling up on this colossal batter-dipped and fried crunchy goodness. They come with a tart, slightly spicy brown mustard, horseradish dip, which I recommend, and ranch dip.
Of course we had to try the Chicken Fried Steak with cream gravy. Southerners are always in search of the best place to eat this dish and Gristmill’s version is a winner. Hand-breaded and fried to perfection, this steak was tender and delicious. Served with Gristmill Fries, round and slightly thicker than potato chips, these were great with the steak.
We also tried one of the daily specials, a bone-in Fire Roasted Chicken Breast. The free-range, certified organic chicken was super tender and juicy having been marinated in a slightly spicy sauce that left it bursting with flavor with a sweet, fiery after-burn. Served with tomato bacon based fresh Gruene beans and a large serving of their home-made mashed potatoes with skins and garlic, this dish was home cooking at its best.
You must try a margarita here as well. They don’t skimp on the ingredients as they believe fresh is best. Additionally, they use only the best tequila always. The House Specialty Margarita made with Patron silver, Patron citron, Cointreau and fresh squeezed lime and orange juice was refreshing even on a wet day. The Orchid on top gave it a bright presentation.
The daily special margarita was the Jalapeno Margarita, a spicy libation to help warm you up inside. Spicy, sweet and tart made it the perfect drink for any margarita lover. The George Strait tequila gave it a Texas twist. Being rimmed in a spicy lemon-lime salt was the perfect topping for this picante drink. (See recipe below).
Of course we had to try the famous Jack Daniel’s Pecan Pie a la mode before we called it quits. This pecan pie is served with a touch of Jack Daniel’s Whiskey and lots of chocolate chips. Served warm to melt the chips and vanilla ice cream, its rich gooeyness made a sweet finale.
Be sure to spend some time before or after your meal to walk around the historic town of Gruene, do some shopping and spend time talking to the locals. Before you come, you might also want to check and see who’s playing at Gruene Hall, Texas’ oldest continually operating and most famous dance hall located in front of the Gristmill. Many famous country bands play here and there is always a crowd. Be sure to wear your boots cause you’ll wanna do some boot scooting across the dance floor.
The Gristmill was placed on the National Register of Historic places in 1975 as a part of the Gruene Historic District. Everything in Gruene provides guests with an experience that is the Lone Star State. Reservations are recommended at the Gristmill River Restaurant & Bar on week-ends and holidays.
The juice blend should be mixed up in advance to allow the jalapenos to infuse the mixture. You can store the juice blend in the refrigerator for several days. This mixer will make up to 20 cocktails.
12 oz Fresh lime juice
4 oz Agave Nector
4 oz simple syrup
2 whole Jalapenos
Blend all ingredients in a jar, mix and allow to sit for several hours or to your taste preference. Double strain to remove all the pulp, seeds and jalapenos.
Cover and store in refrigerator.
1 shot of George Strait tequila (or your favorite tequila)
1 shot of juice blend
1/2 shot of Triple Sec
Mix together and pour into a short bar glass filled with ice and rimmed in spicy lemon-line salt such as Twang. Garnish with slices of jalapeno, a sprig of cilantro, and a lime slice.
**Full Disclosure: I received lunch in exchange for my review. All opinions are 100% mine.
Location: 1287 Gruene Rd., New Braunfels, TX 78130
Sun – Thurs 11am to 9pm
Fri & Sat 11am to 10pm
Sun – Thurs 11am to 10pm
Fri & Sat 11am to 11pm