Breakfast in Utopia!
On a sunny, Sunday morning in January, Don and I drove to Utopia!
We were staying in San Antonio, so it was only a 90 minute drive. (4+ hrs from Houston) We took TX 90 and meandered through other small towns, like Castroville and Hondo.
Love The Sign
Some years ago, we came upon Utopia while heading to a campground. I remember how that sign got me thinking. I wondered about the proud little town. I was eager to experience a little of Paradise!
Years later we returned and I grinned at the sign. "Lets Keep It Nice!"
Did that mean no littering? Or was there a deeper meaning? I won't say anything about a possible "hidden" apostrophe... because my sloppy blogging is the worst!
Coffee on our First Visit
The first time we drove though Utopia, it was also a January day. We quickly spotted Lost Maples. There was little else in the town, of about 220.
It was late morning when we spotted cafe, back in 2014, We'd already eaten breakfast, but we pulled in to have a quick peek.
Don headed to the counter to get some coffee-to-go. I stood back and studied the tables. They reminded me of my grandmother's kitchen! I couldn't help but notice the ladies gathered in the back corner.
Return in 2020
We swore we would return someday for a meal.
It took us 6 years, but we returned to those fabulous tables. One of the 9, looked a little different. I liked that combo table, with wooden legs and metal top!
It was just after 9 and only a few tables were taken. I'm guessing a lot of local folks were still in church.
A woman behind the counter invited us to sit anywhere. Another woman who was seated nearby, greeted us warmly. I wondered if she might be the owner.
Don ordered eggs, ham and hash browns. I have to laugh at how my camera captured his plate! The biscuit was huge, but my photo image makes that square of bread look comically large.
My meal was more serious.
The omelet had a pretty fun kick, all on its own! My biscuit looks much more normal, in the photo!
After a while, it was time to get nosy. I wandered to the counter to look at the yellow sign and the wooden stools.
At the end of the counter, I noticed a chair, bolted to the ceiling.
Hanging from the back of the chair, was a rope and a cane. A couple of horseshoes were looped over some back rungs.
A younger woman at a nearby table, noticed me snooping. Michaela was on a break, but she was happy to fill me in on JR. He had been one of the cafe's prized customers. JR came daily for so many years, that they retired his chair after he died.
Seven Days in Utopia
Michaela was seated near a deer head, sporting some odd looking antlers.
I asked about the photo collection and she lit up. The cafe was used in the movie, "Seven Days in Utopia". She raved about meeting Robert Duvall and his wife. "She couldn't have been nicer!" I was glad to hear her speak with enthusiasm, since I've heard the opposite in other small towns... where movie crews have clashed with locals.
We continued chatting as I peeked into an additional eating area.
I asked if Michaela if she was from Utopia. She answered, "Born and raised!" She said her parents worked at Lost Maples, before she did. "We've all worked for Tacy." She gestured towards the woman who had greeted us earlier.
Questions for Tacy
I introduced myself to the owner, who was happy to fill me in. I told her how much I loved the vintage tables and the wooden booths.
Tacy said they weren't there, when she and her husband Rusty, bought the place in 1986. They added the diner seating and booths, then began filling the place with antiques and knickknacks. She looked up at the covered shelves and windowsills and laughed. "I'm done with that!" I had the feeling she was facing the same de-cluttering urges that I am.
Tacy said the building was built before 1904. Besides serving as a restaurant, it was used as a Masonic Lodge, a doctor's office and a drug store. The upper floor was available for lodging, when it was used by the Masons.
I asked when the building began serving meals. Tacy knew it was a restaurant in the 1960's, but she also recalled hearing that some kind of food was served in the forties... and there had been some kind of bar. We needed JR to fill us in!
Lost Maples Today
After a couple of cars moved, I was ablate look at the porch and compare to the old photo,I saw on their website. Tacy said the old tree on the right, is in every photo she's ever seen.
Tacy's husband arrived after a while. He was wearing a cowboy hat and shook hands graciously. It's nice that they've kept this sweet place going, for so many years.
Before Hitting the Road
With a 90 minute drive back, we made sure to pay a visit to the restroom. Of course I would have done that anyway. A trip to the restroom can offer more surprises.
I was tempted to make a call on the payphone... which really wasn't all that old.
Off We Go
We thanked everyone for chatting with us and headed out. I paused to take a look at the sweet building across the street.
It made me wonder about the post office and the original post master. I read that he was the one who chose the name Utopia. I guess the town never was a Utopian Community. It was just a really heavenly place, near the Sabinal River... which supposedly cured the postmaster of some illness.
I took one more picture of the building, just as Tacy and Rusty headed off. They waved good-bye and I felt lucky that we'd had a chance to talk.
It was worth 3 hours of driving, especially with all the hill country scenery coming and going. Maybe we'll have to catch the movie and reminisce about our Utopian breakfast!
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The Dining Blog
This is a blog about Dining Adventures. Sometimes, I talk about food. Below, you can read how this started.
On July 4th 2011, I set a goal to try 50 culturally diverse restaurants in one year! (I knew that was possible, living in the Houston area) I spent the year pulling in friends and family to join me, on some unusual dining adventures. I met some curious people, tried some scary foods and explored places and cultures I never would have otherwise. Even though I met my goal, I learned too much to end my adventures in dining. I have continued blogging about memorable dining adventures of all kinds, near and far... and all the discoveries and funny things I've learned along the way!
Locations and types of dining adventures, are listed further down.