Eats & Drinks
The Tamale Lady
While this section covers the restaurants you can expect to find, and each with its own pro tip, it's important to us to first include a mention of Maria, THE Tamale Lady, and this is maybe the best pro tip of them all. Maria drives a maroon Nissan Xterra all over Terlingua and Study Butte daily with a cooler full of the best fresh, handmade hot tamales you'll find anywhere.
She typically offers pollo (chicken) and puerca (pork) and they are $12/dozen, cash only. They are the perfect snack, already wrapped for travel, and delicious hot or cold. She's probably the hardest working woman in the Big Bend, and if she doesn't find you first, look for her parked at the Big Bend Motor Inn gas station, the post office, or anywhere people are.
Open daily until she runs out.
La Kiva - Restaurant and Bar
Known for its storied past and its cave-like design (kiva is Spanish for cave), La Kiva offers fresh fare from an adventurous kitchen using many local and exotic ingredients to create a menu of steaks, gourmet pizza, burgers, and more. Their appetizers are legit; we recommend the crab-stuffed mushrooms. Kiva, as some locals call it, also hosts live music often, especially during the busier times of year. If you love karaoke, they're the only joint in town where you can get your fix, and it'll be alongside a cast of seasoned veterans who will mostly impress. It's karaoke though, so anything is possible. Pro tip: don't mention the Badlands TV show because nobody here wants to talk about it, ya dig?
Open daily from 5PM–Midnight, 1AM Saturdays
Happy Hour from 5PM–7PM
This former movie theater from the mining boom era is located in the heart of the ghost town and offers a full bar and live music every night of the week. It has a great menu with steaks, salads, sandwiches, tacos, brisket, Terlingua chili, and more.
We recommend the Chicken Fried Wild Boar, or if you just can't ever get enough to eat, try the infamous Diego Burger. Starlight is typically the busiest bar/restaurant in Terlingua in part due to its close proximity to the Porch. You can expect a long wait for a table at almost any time, so show up early, get your name on the list, and grab a Lone Star Beer or a Dirty Rancher with our Sotol Terlingua from the bar and enjoy the locals and the view from the porch while you wait.
The bar and its patio will give you some of the most legit people-meeting or watching experiences you can get out here—highly recommended. Pro tip: Don't forget to tip the band too. (Maybe mention Clay Henry, the stuffed ex-mayor of Lajitas—or not.)
Open daily from 5PM–Midnight, 1AM Saturdays
Happy Hour from 5–7PM
Brunch on Sundays 11AM–3PM (seasonally October–May)
Long Draw Pizza
A few miles west of the Ghost Town. You'll be treated to one of our favorite locals who will take your order, tell you it's going to take at least 45 minutes, make it herself, cash you out, then clear your table if you didn't do it yourself—but you should do it yourself. The place is loaded with photos and past chili cook-off memorabilia and is a favorite of many locals and regular visitors alike. They sell wine and cheap pitchers of beer, and you can BYOB as long as you keep it in a bag (weird Texas law). Pro tip: Order the Pancho Villa and add pepperoni. And bus your own table before you leave because it's the nice thing to do.
Open 5PM–8:30PM Friday, Saturday, Sunday
Open days and hours vary by season.
Canyon Brew Coffee at Far Flung
Located on the front of the Far Flung Outdoor Center main office, this coffee shop is staffed by a revolving cast of FFOC employees and river guides who know as much about coffee as they do about the Río. Open early in the morning and until things get slow, grab regular or iced coffee, espresso or other specialty coffee drinks, and a great selection of fresh, locally made muffins. Pro tip: bring your own cup and not only get a discount but also help us keep the amount of trash here in the Big Bend to a minimum.
Open daily from 7AM until they close, typically around 11AM
Chili Pepper Cafe
Located adjacent to the Terlingua post office just off 118 in Study Butte, Chili Pepper is your go-to for traditional Mexican food for breakfast, lunch, and early dinner. Look for breakfast favorites like migas and chilaquiles as well as omelets and pancakes, or tacos al carbon and enchiladas for later in the day, although most of the menu is available as long as they're open. Laid-back service, inexpensive, indoor and outdoor seating, good selection of Mexican beers. Pro tip: a black coffee and a Topo Chico are a great way to start your day in the desert.
Open 7 days a week from 8AM–9PM
High Sierra Bar and Grill
The closest thing to an Old West saloon you might find out here. Interesting decor, quirky service, and a kitchen staff who knows how to make some great Mexican food. The Los Gringos Alambre tacos are one of our staples, and they make a great chicken-fried steak. Open mic on Thursday nights, local musician Jeff Haislip and friends every Friday night, and Dr. Fun playing 70s classic rock hits and his originals EVERY SATURDAY!
Open daily from 11:45AM–12AM, 1AM Saturdays
Located on FM 170 in between Study Butte and Terlingua, Rio Bravo serves up their traditional Mexican food, including some vegetarian dishes, and some of the best Chile Rellenos around. Pro tip: no alcohol is sold here, but YOU CAN BRING YOUR OWN BEER, as it's printed on the menu.
Open Mon–Sat from 11AM–3:30PM and 6PM–9PM
DB's Rustic Iron BBQ
If you are looking for a delicious, authentic Texas BBQ experience, DB has got you covered. It’s located in a trailer maybe 50’ off FM 170 in between Study Butte and Terlingua. Make a stop and treat yourself to some of his hard work smoking meat in the desert heat. Brisket, ribs, sausage, pulled pork, chicken on Thursdays, and specials often, along with the proper sides like potato salad, coleslaw, and beans. Pro tip: Bring beer. DB likes Dos XX.
Open Wednesday through Sunday 11AM until he sells out—and he does, so don't wait all day.
Big Bend Motor Inn Restaurant
Classic diner fare for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, and daily host to many longtime locals. It’s located inside the Big Bend Motor Inn gas station and store in Study Butte, and you'll enter the doors to the left of the gas station counter. This place is old school, so seat yourself, don't be in a hurry, enjoy your meal, then pay at the counter and tip at the table. Pro tip: Stop by for a Blue Bell ice cream in a cup, cone, shake or malt. Also, this is the only place to get gas outside of the National Park or the Lajitas General Store.
Open daily from 6:45AM–9PM, but restaurant hours vary by season.
Quiet little Mexican restaurant located about 10 miles north of Study Butte on TX 118 at the Longhorn RV Park. Great spot if you are staying at or near Terlingua Ranch and don't want to drive all the way into town. Pro tip: CASH ONLY, no ATM.
Call ahead at (432) 371-2133 for hours and info.
Bad Rabbit Cafe - Terlingua Ranch
Burgers, sandwiches, tacos, and more. This is the only restaurant out in Terlingua Ranch, and is located adjacent to the Ranch office and Lodge. Inexpensive, cold Lone Star, incredible murals on the walls. Great spot way out there. Pro tip: Blame Ronda. Also, you can swim in the cold springwater pool for $5 if you’re not a guest at the lodge.
Tuesday 7AM–7PM Wednesday 7AM–9PM Thursday 7AM–9PM Friday 7AM–9PM Saturday 7AM–9PM Sunday 7AM–2PM Monday 7AM–7PM
Candelilla Restaurant/Thirsty Goat Saloon
Located at the Lajitas Golf Resort and Spa, about a 15-minute drive west of Terlingua, just past the Big Bend Ranch State Park Barton Warnock Visitor Center, on the south side of the highway. Upscale, more pricey than Terlingua, but great food, good service, and great views. Full bar, lunch and dinner menus, awesome queso. Typically a nice getaway, very different from Terlingua. Pro tip: ask about the rowboat at the old 17th hole on the golf course.
Tuesday 12PM–10PM Wednesday 12PM–10PM Thursday 12PM–10PM Friday 11AM–11PM Saturday 11AM–11PM Sunday 11AM–10PM Monday 12PM–10PM Hours may vary, call ahead at (432) 424-5033.
OTHER SPOTS FOR FOOD/DRINKS
Cottonwood General Store
Maybe you forgot a few things, want to make your own dinner, or need snacks and water on your way to the National Park. The only grocery store around is located in Study Butte on TX 118, a few miles before the BBNP main entrance. It is truly an amazing place with everything from fresh produce to frozen foods and ice cream, beer, wine, ice, eggs, firewood, and even power tools and horse feed. If they don't have it, you probably aren't getting it here. If you are vegetarian or vegan, Cottonwood does carry some selection, but your best bet is to bring what you like or stop at Blue Water Natural Foods in Alpine on your way down south. Some vegetarian options are available at a few of the local restaurants. Pro tip: no ATM here, but a good place to break a $100 bill.
Open Monday–Friday 7AM–9PM, Saturday–Sunday 8AM–9PM
Shot Time Liquor
In Texas, liquor by the bottle can only be sold at a liquor store, not in a grocery store or convenience store like many other states. Yes, it’s an antiquated law that does cause some inconvenience, but with knowledge of this and proper planning, you’ll be sipping tequila with not a care in the world. Shot Time Liquor is the ONLY liquor store around, and luckily for you (and us!) they keep a great selection of spirits, beer, and wine on hand and they’re happy to sell it to you. Along with the booze, you can also grab ice, cigarettes, light snacks, and more. And they are pulling triple duty by also serving as the local head shop AND the only place where you can buy “adult novelties”—think penis drink straws and go up from there. Service can range from almost always friendly to a little salty every once in a while, but they’ll always get you what you came for, even if it isn’t what you actually came for. Catch our drift? Pro tip: buy sotol and forget you ever heard of tequila.
Open daily 10AM–9PM, closed Sundays
(Hours mandated by the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission)