If you're taking a Texas road trip, you can get to many locations fast by taking interstates. But if you take the back roads and smaller highways, you'll find local gems that are well worth taking the time to stop. On U.S. 281 just a little northwest of Austin, in the little town of Marble Falls, you'll find an unassuming building a few blocks from the lake that serves breakfast all day and the best pies. The Blue Bonnet Cafe is a Texas gem and if you've never been, start planning your trip.
The Blue Bonnet Cafe is a Texas Must-See
The Blue Bonnet Cafe first opened on Main Street in downtown Marble Falls in 1929. O.E. Smith, the cafe's founder, named the restaurant after a woman's hat (not the Texas state flower). In 1946, the cafe moved to its current location. The cafe was a draw for Texans across the state; in fact, Lyndon Johnson used to hold breakfast meetings in one of the side rooms.
In 1981, Don Bridges, who owned the cafe at the time, asked regular breakfast customer and local entrepreneur John Kemper if he might be interested in buying the cafe. Kemper said yes, and he and his wife Belinda started the Blue Bonnet on its path to being known the world over.
The Kempers expanded the kitchen and built a new dining room in 2000. And in 2005, John and Belinda's oldest daughter, Lindsay Plante, and her husband, David, moved back to Marble Falls to become part of the family business.
One thing the Blue Bonnet Cafe is known for is the pies. Belinda is the mastermind behind the cafe's 15 different kinds of pie, including a variety of fruit pies, pecan, fudge, German chocolate cream, peanut butter cream, banana cream, lemon cream, lemon meringue, and coconut cream. Get a slice of pie with a scoop of ice cream or get a whole pie to take home. You can get pie any time of day, but try to drop in between 3 and 5 p.m. on a weekday for their Pie Happy Hour for a special price on a slice of pie and a drink.
The cafe menu reads like the best of the best in comfort food. Blue Bonnet Cafe house specials include pot roast, chicken-fried steak and catfish fillets. Or you can order one of the rotating daily specials, including sour cream chicken enchiladas, chicken and dumplings and smoked pork ribs. Find homemade mashed potatoes, green beans and pinto beans on the list of sides. Or get a hot roast beef or grilled cheese sandwich with french fries. The cafe also offers homemade soups every day.
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The cafe serves good food to around 400,000 people a year, which comes out to about 28,800 eggs, 5,920 chicken-fried steaks, 98,800 cups of coffee, 23,000 glasses of iced tea and 3,100 pies per month, according to one of the local papers.
The Blue Bonnet Cafe lost one of its owners earlier this year; John Kemper passed away in May 2020 after suffering from from complications associated with Parkinson's disease. But the cafe is still open and the Kemper family is still serving pies and comfort food to anyone who takes the time to stop in Marble Falls.