December in Round Top & Comfort Food at Royer’s

Having never visited Round Top, Texas, I had no idea what to expect when we drove into the community recently. When you read about the tiny town on Wikipedia, it states the population was 80 people in 2010. Since many of my friends have questioned whether I’d ever been there, I wasn’t really sure what all the buzz was about, until I arrived.

Located in Fayette County, Texas, near the small Texas towns of La Grange and Giddings, I discovered Round Top to be a delightful community with friendly citizens, historic buildings and seemingly endless retail opportunities. From a shop carrying only Texas artists to a beautiful chapel located in the middle of several dozen buildings ranging from log cabins to newer construction, this quaint town offers a little bit of everything. I also found out from one of the many hospitable merchants that several times a year, Round Top hosts antiques fairs that extend for several miles, in buildings and fields across Fayette County. For additional information, visit http://www.roundtoptexasantiques.com.
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And then we came across the Round Top Festival Institute, also known as Festival Hill. Unfortunately, the beautiful facilities were closed when we drove through but if the inside of the buildings are anything like the outside, I would highly recommend a visit. In viewing their website, http://www.festivalhill.org, I can almost assure you, you won’t be disappointed. According to the website, concert pianist James Dick established the Institute in 1971 and created a 200-acre campus and organization to operate one of the major music festivals in the U.S. Festival Hill hosts more than 50 events throughout the year, including their August-to-April Series, Theatre Forum, Poetry Forum, Herbal Forum and the International Guitar Festival. What a beautiful campus!
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20131224-091848.jpgIn tiny Round Top, Texas, big things come in small packages and not just during the holidays. For more information, visit http://www.roundtop.org. I look forward to returning for a concert and to finding hidden treasures during their antique fairs. Safe travels!

EAT IN THE HEART OF TEXAS
When you arrive in Round Top and step out of your vehicle, the smell hits you. You know immediately something great is cooking nearby. It is a familiar aroma, like arriving at Grandma’s house and stepping into her kitchen. Visiting Royer’s Round Top Cafe is akin to going home in size, as well, or at least to my home. Seating only 40 people at a time, if you arrive just a few minutes after the doors open, I learned you can expect to wait. We chose to sit out on the porch, in spite of the chilly 50-degree temperatures to experience the goodness we knew must be inside.

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The 45-minute wait was worth it not only for the incredible meal awaiting us, but also just to enjoy the decorative porch and friendly folks waiting with us, including several small families, a couple of motorcycle enthusiasts and what appeared to be regulars just enjoying their time watching our fascination as first-time visitors. Known for their pies, Royer’s had quite a reputation to uphold. When I asked those waiting with us for a prized table what their favorite pie was, the simple answer was “All of them.” Pretty high praise from the locals and the returning visitors so my husband and I were looking forward to what was to come. The owner’s son stepped out of the screen door to check on us, thanked us for waiting and told us the fried chicken, the special of the day, was great. We hoped we arrived early enough to try it before they ran out.

When we were seated, aside from noticing the colorful decor around the restaurant, we enjoyed seeing the eyeglasses in champagne flutes at every table, no doubt for those who have a little trouble reading the menu but still don’t want to admit they need reading glasses.

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We selected the special of the day. The juicy garlic fried chicken was served family style with mashed potato casserole, creamed corn and rolls with the options of garlic butter or honey. We had to refrain from eating everything because of dessert.

And then there was the pie… Having to decide with so many options including apple, blueberry, chocolate chip, buttermilk, peach, pecan, junk berry (which includes just about every kind of fruit), we opted for cherry pie with a scoop of vanilla from Amy’s Ice Cream, an Austin original. As a pie baker myself, I feel like I can spot the difference between a store-bought or homemade crust. This crust was the real deal. Flaky, flaky, flaky. If there is a heaven for pies, I hope it looks something like Round Top.

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For more information on Royer’s, visit http://www.royersroundtopcafe.com and as they say at the cafe, Eat ‘Mo Pie.

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Categories: Food, Travel Texas

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