May 1, 2017

"Outside the Loop" - Your Day Trip to Brenham

(Click on any of the photos to see a larger version)

As you make your way down 290 going west, your first stop may very well be the Tanger Outlet Malls just outside of Cypress. No photos at this time, though. You'll recognize it when you see the signs. There's a smaller Buc-ee's near it but that isn't the one that you will want to stop at. The bigger, mega-Buc-ee's is by the  exits to Waller and that is where you want to make your holy pilgrimage and bask in that which is buc-ee's. Part of me doesn't get the phenomenon in the sense that, yes, I love the great, clean restrooms there, but, much of the retail is pricey and can be had cheaper elsewhere. People, though, love the fudge, the jerky, the selection of snack foods in these, the Texas-sized convenience stores of the open highway. Photos follow. Angela and I had a ball walking around. I picked up a selection of sugar free candies. Angela had a burrito and picked up some Chik-O-Stiks made by the Atkinson Candy Company in Lufkin.











We did not exit to visit Waller, Texas. But a person in Hempstead said that Waller has two Mexican restaurants that she felt were better than any to be found in Hempstead. These were El Ranchito and Cielito Lindo. I haven't tried either, though, as we planned to eat in Brenham on this road trip.


Now, our next stop would be Hempstead. Hempstead is famous for Frasier's Ornamental Concrete, of course. Right on 290, Frasier's is the place for every concrete garden animal, gnome, knick-knack imaginable. It is a Hempstead institution, along with the famous Hempstead watermelons.





But the first place I wanted to show friend Angela was the VF Outlet Store. Deeply discounted pricing on their product lines of clothes for men, women and children. Whereas most factory outlet venues pay lip service to lower prices, VF Outlet is the real deal. Nautica, Wrangler, Reebok, Jansport, and more. A must stop for shopping. Here are a few photos.









After a successful shopathon, we headed into Hempstead proper. We didn't have breakfast here but I did grab a coffee at the McDonald's. Don't laugh. I remembered having a remarkably good one here, decided it might be the Hempstead water, and I filled five water bottles to take back to Houston to experiment with making coffee with the Hempstead water. We also checked into Breakfast Paradise to look at the menu, but didn't eat there. But from what I saw coming out of the kitchen, I think I want to go back and try it. We finished our stay in Hempstead with a thrift store we found (Focusing Families Thrift Store).



We passed by Chappell Hill and didn't stop, but I showed Angela the downtown area. This is a town that has its high time during the bluebonnets in March and April. There is a good restaurant for lunch and pie there (Bever's). We visited the Chappell Hill cemetary and took some backroads to get back to 290. Next stop, Brenham.

Our first stop, based on that gigantic coffee cup on the roof was the Moebius Coffee Shop and Pizzeria. In addition to coffee, we did order a thin crust, New York style pizza to sample and we both liked the crust a lot. Got to meet Henry de la Garza, the owner. We discovered that he and I grew up on the same side of town in Houston and went to the same junior high school.  Artwork by local students and a local professional artist, know for his "purple house". Photos follow.












Now, Brenham has a local coffee roaster, Independence Coffee. Available at HEB and other grocery stores. So we went to their factory store next.






Next on the list was the visit to Firemen's Park, site of the vintage carousel. Available for rides (under 12  only) on the week-ends. Last time I had been through here, the parts were in storage but now, the carousel has been fully assembled and given its own housing in the beautiful park.











And then, we made our way toward the center of town, parking and walking around. Many places were actually closed, this being a Monday, and we settled in to the Funky Art Cafe for lunch. I had a very tasty veggie burger made with pumpkin, rice, corn and other stuff. Angela had the grilled cheese sandwich and it was also very good. There are about five other places to eat in the vicinity and all are good.  Made in Heaven, Smitty's, Yum! Sweets and Eats, Park Street Bakery, etc.

Check out the WPA era decorations on the city's courhouse.

And visit the antiques dealers.

















Angela: You think they specialize in events?
Jay: Either that or they got a really good deal on tables and chairs.



Finishing up our road trip, we went to two of the Higgins thrift stores. The one at 2230 South Market Street was terrific. If I lived in Brenham, I would probably check it out every two weeks. The other location on Blue Bell Road was more of a reduced to sell kind of place. But still worth the visit I think.

Not visited (closed on Monday), but an absolute must, is Truth Barbecue. Some of the finest barbecue I have eaten in Texas and I cannot recommend Truth highly enough. I have also heard good things about Nathan's Barbecue but haven't had the opportunity to eat there yet.














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