A Round Top Round-Up

The PBS lifestyle comes alive in this Central Texas oasis of culture, antiques, and pie.

By John Lomax August 22, 2014

Festival Hill Concert Hall

Image: Wikipedia

With more than 70 B&Bs in the area and a listed population of 94 souls, Round Top likely has the lowest quaint inn-to-resident ratio of any place in Texas, if not America, or even the world. Whereas nearby towns trade in cotton, cattle, and creamy confections (Brenham is right down the read), Round Top trades in high culture and the contents of our collective attic.

Life in Round Top is a Texas version of the PBS lifestyle.

A score from a previous Big Red Barn antiques fair

There’s solo, chamber, and orchestral music at the James Dick–founded Round Top Festival Institute, where every June and July the 217-acre complex's Festival Hill Concert Hall comes alive with performances combining students and distinguished teachers from around the world. The complex is open year-round for tours, biking, and hiking, and also hosts smaller events throughout the year. Check the schedule here.

Over the last two weekends of July and the first two in August, the nearby, um, hamlet of Winedale showcases the Bard of Avon at Shakespeare at Winedale. Each year there are repertory performances of three plays in the Theatre Barn at the Winedale Historical Center. They run Thursday through Saturday, including weekend matinees. And speaking of the UT-affiliated Winedale Historical Center, on weekends year-round the fully-restored 19th-century homestead offers seminars on the checkerboard quilt that is the many and varied ethnic groups of Central Texas.

So you’ve missed this year’s Shakespalooza, Round Top’s Fourth of July party (said to be the oldest west of the Mississippi) and the Festival Institute’s program. Mark 'em down for next year and head out to Round Top anyway, because there is plenty see and tasty treats to eat all the year 'round. Bybee Square and Henkel Square Market house shops, boutiques, galleries, and cafés. On October 1-4, the 47th annual fall Original Antiques Fair will once again sprawl beyond its original home in the 30,000-square-foot Big Red Barn far down the highway to scattered towns all over the area.

Eat mo' pie at Royer's.

We mentioned Round Top eats—there’s the Texas bucket list country fare and homemade pies at Royer’s Round Top Café, and nearby Royer’s Pie Haven offers legendary baked goods both sweet and savory, as well as mouth-watering burgers. ("Eat Mo' Pie" is the slogan of the Café, while "Pie and Mo'" is that of the Pie Haven.)

Patio dining at Scotty & Friends

A little outside of town, the Oaks Restaurant draws raves for its chicken-frieds and catfish, and in-town Scotty & Friends offers similar fare along with German beer and fare and specialties like a bacon and fried green tomato sandwich on a fresh jalapeño bun, all served under the stately boughs of a grand old live oak.

And as we said, the hills around Round Top are alive with the sound of sizzling bacon and sausages in the kitchens of the area's six dozen or so B&Bs and inns, most occupying converted century-old farmhouses. Two of the most popular are the Wellspring and the Prairie by Rachel Ashwell, the English-born queen of shabby chic. A complete listing is here

Shabby chic of the Prairie's Lilliput Lodge bedroom

Round Top is 95 miles WNW of downtown Houston. Yes, there are three paths you can go by.


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