Dripping Springs, less than 40 minutes from downtown Austin, is a town rich with breweries, wineries, and great spots to eat. It’s filled with rolling hills, beautiful parks, and towering oak trees. And it’s home to the picture-perfect Hamilton Pool. You know, the one that shows up in every blog about the “10 best hidden gems in Texas” (and for the record, it is pretty remarkable). It also happens to make for a pretty great day trip, especially when the weather is nice and the patios are plentiful. Here are a few of our favorite spots to eat, drink, and generally have a good time.
Rolling In Thyme & Dough
Depending on how early of a start you get, you’ll probably want to kick your day off with some coffee and a snack. Fortunately, at Rolling In Thyme & Dough, you can get both. Try the breakfast croissant here - it’s a nice, flaky croissant filled with eggs, pesto, cheese, and ham (there are also bacon, turkey bacon, and chicken sausage varieties). The shaded patio here has all sorts of eclectic and antique furniture that might feel oddly reminiscent of a childhood visit to your quirky Aunt Janet.
Alright, so Pieous is not technically in Dripping Springs, but we’re all about loosely-defined borders here. And chances are, if you’re driving from Austin, you’ll be passing by on the way. So let’s say, hypothetically, you get a bit of a late start and realize you’re not going to make it into Dripping Springs in time for breakfast because you stayed up finishing the new season of Cobra Kai. A neapolitan pizza at Pieous might be in your future. Hypothetically, of course. They’re known for two things in particular here: pizza and pastrami. And we’re not sure which one we like more. But since they don’t make a pastrami pizza, you should probably just get both. There’s no seating here right now, but we found that the hood of a car makes for a pretty good makeshift table.
Treaty Oak Distilling
Treaty Oak is one of the few local distilleries we’ve seen that actually produces a few different spirits - bourbon, rye, gin, hand sanitizer - though we can’t recommend ordering that last one for one of their tasting flights. The first thing you’ll notice when you enter is the sheer size of the place. It’s wide enough to throw a football across (with plenty of room to spare, in our case), with large oak trees providing ample shade on the 28-acre ranch. Try a flight if you want to get a sampling of their many spirits, or check out their cocktail menu for something that’s maybe a little more refreshing than straight whiskey on a 100° afternoon. Try the Good Juju - it’s made with their gin, blueberry, lavender, juniper syrup, lemon juice, and dehydrated blueberries. And it goes surprisingly well with the chips and queso at Alice’s Restaurant - also located on the premises.
Alice's Restaurant at Treaty Oak Distilling
Alice’s Restaurant is there to help you safely get through your Treaty Oak experience without passing out from lack of food. But rather than simply playing support, as many bar-food menus tend to do, the food here is really solid - focusing mostly on Hill Country barbecue and other Texas comfort foods, like queso, cornbread, and frito pie. We like the blue plate special here - where you can get a nice sampling of a couple different smoked meats with sides.
Desert Door Texas Sotol
Desert Door Sotol is a distillery that specializes in sotol - a spirit that, to the uninitiated, can best be described as a distant cousin of tequila, made from the sotol plant that grows in abundance in the Texas Hill Country. It’s bright, a bit grassy, and very versatile - making it a perfect substitute in classic cocktails like their Desert Paloma or Sotol’d Fashioned. The space here is beautiful - the interior rich with a West Texas aesthetic that would feel just at home in Marfa as it does out here. And that thoughtful design extends to their covered patio - beautifully lit, and peppered with local flora. The live music playing on most nights is easy to get lost in, but the sotol plants lining the borders and surrounding landscape will quickly remind you that you are, in fact, in the heart of sotol country. And if you get hungry, there’s a great food trailer outside called Eden West. Desert Door is definitely one of our favorite spots in the area.
If this name sounds vaguely familiar, that’s because this is the new project of Eden East - a food trailer in Austin that was located on the actual farm that grew many of their ingredients. But they recently moved their farm to Driftwood, and their food trailer to Desert Door Sotol, where they share more than just a lot. That’s because at Eden West, many of the dishes incorporate sotol byproducts, so you’ll see things like sirloin steak and onion rings with sotol nectar, next to butternut queso with sumac corn chips. Our favorite thing here was probably the hot quail knots - fried with a blue corn crust, and served with pickled mustard greens, carrot mole, and fermented hot sauce. But if you want something a little lighter, the chilled watermelon with fresh herbs, lime, and chili honey makes for a really refreshing snack.
Acopon Brewing Company
Acopon is a smaller brewery, closer to the center of town where most of the shopping is. It’s a great spot when you need to rest your feet for a minute after hitting up the nearby home goods and vintage stores, where you just bought a bunch of old plates that you’ll probably never use. Here, they specialize in English ales, but they have a few American-style craft beers as well. They’re also one of the few places we’ve seen around town that serves ales on cask. Everything we tried here was really solid, so we recommend getting a flight so you can get a sampling of what they have to offer. The space isn’t huge, but there’s a good amount of indoor and outdoor seating. And if you get hungry, there’s a food trailer on their front patio that makes wood-fired pizzas.
Texas Hill Country Olive Oil Company
One of the last things we expected to come across in Dripping Springs was a giant, Tuscan-inspired villa on an expansive acreage of olive trees. Sure, we’ve read all about the history of oil in Texas, but this wasn’t exactly what we had in mind. They do a couple of tours each day, so you can walk the grounds and find out what the difference is between extra virgin and refined olive oil (other than the latter sounding really unappetizing on some bread). And since space is limited - particularly on weekends - you may want to sign up in advance. They also have a bistro with lunch options, indoor and outdoor seating areas, and a tasting room where you can enjoy fresh-baked breads, wine, balsamic vinegar, and - surprise - olive oil.
Twisted X Brewing Company
Twisted X is another great spot for an afternoon stop. They’ve got a large, mostly-shaded patio and lawn with picnic tables, as well as a few pockets of chairs that’ll make you feel more like you’re hanging out in a backyard than at a brewery. Until you make your way to the tap room, that is. They brew a bunch of styles here, but we generally find ourselves here in the afternoon where we gravitate towards something light and refreshing, like the gulf kolsch or Austin lager. And if you get hungry while you’re there, they have a food trailer in the parking lot dishing out some tasty wood-fired pizza.