Plan a Visit to Gruene, Texas

by | Apr 19, 2011 | Restaurant Overviews, Travel

The bronze catfish grilled with Cajun seasonings and topped with tequila butter and lime that is served at the Gristmill River Restaurant & Bar in Gruene, Texas

On a recent trip to Texas to visit my sister, her daughters and their families, we stayed at my sister’s friend’s “River House” on the Guadalupe River in New Braunfels.  New Braunfels is about halfway between Austin and San Antonio.  Close by is the Gruene Historic District. Gruene (pronounced green) was settled by German farmers in the mid 1840’s.

Ernest Gruene and his two sons built the first homes and planted the surrounding land with cotton.  In 1878, they built a cotton gin that was powered by the Guadalupe River and a dance hall and saloon, Gruene Hall, which became the center of the community’s social life. The economic disasters of the bollweevil and the Depression were too much for the family businesses and they went under except for Gruene Hall, which never closed.

The Gruene Hall where George Strait, Lyle Lovett, and Hal Ketchum got their start

In the mid 1970’s new businesses were established and Gruene is once again a thriving community.  Gruene Hall is Texas’ oldest and continually operating dance hall and is where George Strait, Lyle Lovett, and Hal Ketchum got their start.  It is also featured in the movie ‘Michael”, starring John Travolta, whose dance scene was filmed there.

The Gristmill River Restaurant and Bar in Gruene, Texas

Our favorite restaurant in Gruene is the Gristmill River Restaurant & Bar.  It opened in 1977 and is located in the 1870’s cotton gin beneath the water tower.

We started our meal with the spinach and artichoke dip and the homemade queso. Both were served with light and crispy tortilla chips.  YUMMY!  My favorite dish is the fried jumbo Gulf Coast shrimp.  They are butterflied and lightly coated. They are the largest shrimp I have ever been served and they give you a very large portion.  Another favorite with our group is the Pepper Filet.  It is a bacon wrapped filet that is grilled and topped with cracked black pepper.  We also tried the bronze catfish.  It is a farm raised catfish filet that is grilled with Cajun seasonings and topped with tequila butter and lime.  It was very good and the Cajun seasoning did not overpower the taste of the catfish.  The New York strip steak was also very good.  Most meals are served with a garden dinner salad and one side.

The Gristmill’s spinach and artichoke dip and the homemade queso

Jumbo Gulf Coast shrimp

Bacon wrapped pepper filet topped with cracked black pepper

New York Steak at the Gristmill

Some of the sides we ordered were the mashed potatoes, which also come loaded with cheese, bacon and chives, green beans with tomato and bacon, round cut fries, pinto beans that are spicy and flavored with bacon and jalapenos and the Hill Country cole slaw which was lightly dressed with a touch of jalapeno.

We are usually too full to get dessert, but my mom has gotten the Jack Daniel’s Pecan Pie, which she really enjoyed.

The Gristmill has inside and outside dining.  Some of the tables are even placed going down the bank of the Guadalupe River.  It is a very unique place.  We love it so much we usually eat there twice on our visits to the River House.

If you are ever down that way in Texas, try and visit the Gruene Historical District.  There are antique stores and several specialty stores that are fun to browse and shop.  The Gruene General Store is very interesting.  It is selected as one of the 40 best places to visit in Texas.  It has a soda fountain, Texas foods and unusual gifts.  And of course, you must try the Gristmill.  You will not be disappointed!

~Cousin Wendy