May 26, 2022


What to eat, drink and do in Texas Hill Country’s Johnson City

6 min read

The Texas Hill Country is no stranger to tourism. With its scenic views, outdoor activities, history and wineries that have been popping up over the years, it’s been a hot spot for those looking to see Texas’ natural beauty alongside the opportunity for a good glass of red.

While Fredericksburg is the bustling tourist anchor to Hill Country, one small Texas town is raising its profile: Johnson City. 

With a population under 3,000, Johnson City is now home to new restaurants and bars alongside the existing sights. Its placement on Texas’ “290 Wine Trail,” which starts in the town and runs along Highway 290 before ending in Fredericksburg, doesn’t hurt—there are multiple tasting rooms and wineries in Blanco County.

While Johnson City is not as overrun with tasting rooms as Fredericksburg is, it’s worth a stop for unique wine finds and a more chill, cooler vibe. Here’s how to spend an awesome weekend in Johnson City.

Cool new spots to eat and drink

Crowson Winery and Tasting Room 

Natural wine fans, this is the spot for you. The father-son team behind Crowson Winery uses a low-intervention approach to create their small-batch wines, meaning you’ll find no added yeast or sugars in their bottles. All production takes place in the same building as the tasting room, where they serve pours of Syrah, Mourvèdre, Malvasia Blanca and rosé. Just set up a time to taste over text or email.

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Find it: 102 N. Ave. G, Johnson City, TX 78636; 830-225-8880
Hours: Daily, 10 a.m.-7 p.m. 

Johnson City Coffee Co. brings quality coffee and pastries to Texas Hill Country.

Johnson City Coffee Co. brings quality coffee and pastries to Texas Hill Country.

Johnson City Coffee Co.

Johnson City Coffee Co. 

Sip espresso before a long day of exploring at this local coffee shop. Johnson City Coffee Co. partners with Dripping Springs’ Greater Goods Coffee Company, which was named 2021 Micro Roaster of the Year by Roast Magazine. A shaded patio keeps the heat at bay during the summer, and there’s free Wi-Fi and plenty of outlets should you need to get some work done. Or, if you’re in a rush, make use of the shop’s convenient drive-thru window.

Find it: 108 W. Main St., Suite 821, Johnson City, TX 78636 
Hours: Monday-Friday, 6:30 a.m.-5 p.m.; Saturday-Sunday, 7:30 a.m.-5 p.m.

Nice N Easy

Nice N Easy is one of Johnson City’s newer watering holes, but the building has been a fixture downtown since 1917. Legend has it that the site served alcohol in the 1870s, and that a 12-year-old pre-presidential Lyndon B. Johnson sampled “medicinal” wine there. Now in the 2020s, Nice N Easy serves craft cocktails, wine and beer, and snackable Texas classics such as Frito pie, chips and guacamole, and chili dogs. Sample Yokefellow beer or Lightsome wine, which are produced by the bar’s owners. 

Find it: 106 N Nugent Ave, Johnson City, TX 78636
Hours: Friday 4 p.m.-midnight; Saturday noon-midnight; Sunday noon-10 p.m.; Monday 4-10 p.m.

The Parlour by Southold Farm + Cellar

Hill Country winery Southold Farm & Cellar opened its Johnson City satellite wine bar in 2019. The wines are crafted with Texas-grown grapes with a low-intervention winemaking approach. Southold’s roster includes blends with Italian and French varieties, mostly from the Rhône Valley, among others. Enjoy a glass or entire bottle alongside light snacks inside the modern space inside, or on the back patio. 

Find it: 109 N. Nugent Ave., Johnson City, TX 78636
Hours: Thursday-Saturday, 11 a.m.-6 p.m.

Southold Farm & Cellar opened a wine bar in Johnson City to showcase the winery's juice.

Southold Farm & Cellar opened a wine bar in Johnson City to showcase the winery’s juice.

Southold Farm & Cellar

Other food and wine go-tos

Bryans on 290 

Chef Bryan Gillenwater focuses on Hill Country cuisine—think veal schnitzel, Prime Angus ribeye and smoked duck breast tartine—and emphasizes cooking with live fire, harkening back to when he first discovered his love of cooking as a Boy Scout manning a campfire. Since it opened in 2016, Bryans of 290 has been a favorite of locals and visitors alike. Reservations are recommended.

Find it: 300 E. Main St., Johnson City, TX 78636; 830-868-2424
Hours: Tuesday-Saturday, 5-9 p.m.

Lewis Wines

Texas native winemaker Doug Lewis works with unique Texas-grown grapes not a lot of other vineyards are producing, including the Portuguese varieties Tinta Cão and Touriga Nacional in the Round Mountain Reserve red blend. Lewis Wines’ serene outdoor tasting room has views of the Pedernales River Basin.

Lewis Wines makes some of the best wines in Texas Hill Country.

Lewis Wines makes some of the best wines in Texas Hill Country.

Emma Balter

Find it: 3209 US-290, Johnson City, TX 78636; 512-987-0660
Hours: Thursday-Monday, 10:30 a.m.-5 p.m.

Pecan Street Brewing

Across from the courthouse on the town square, Pecan Street Brewing is a Johnson City hotspot, for good reason. The brewery calls the old Blanco County Supply and Hardware building home, which was once the unofficial meeting place for locals back in the day. Now, it’s got your standard brewpub fare—pizza, burgers, salads—alongside beer brewed on-site and Texas-made wines. Find live music on Fridays and Saturdays and a pet-friendly biergarten (but call ahead to make sure it’s not booked for an event).

Find it: 106 E Pecan Dr, Johnson City, TX 78636; 830-868-2500
Hours: Monday-Thursday, 11 a.m.-8 p.m.; Friday-Sunday, 11 a.m.-9 p.m.

Between wine tastings and meals

Art galleries

Johnson City has several art galleries, most within a stone’s throw of each other. A Smith Gallery features work from professional and amateur photographers, Art Beat Studio & Gallery has art for purchase in plenty of mediums, and local artist Lee Casbeer showcases his detailed paintings and mural work at his own gallery.

The Science Mill

If you happen to be traveling with kids—or some very enthusiastic adult amateur scientists—the science museum housed in a feed mill built in 1880 has interactive, STEM-focused exhibits, an aquaponics greenhouse, and a Science & Art Park. The Science Mill opened in 2015, looking to give any kid the opportunity to see themselves as a future scientist. Picnics are welcome at the tables in the park as well, should you wish to eat alongside the African spurred tortoises that call it home.

The Science Mill opened in Johnson City in 2015 in an old grist mill.

The Science Mill opened in Johnson City in 2015 in an old grist mill.

Catherine Parker

Find it: 101 S. Lady Bird Lane, Johnson City, TX 78636; 844-263-6405
Hours: Wednesday-Saturday, 10 a.m.-4 p.m.; Sunday, 12-4 p.m.

Texas Vintage Motorcycle Museum

Motorcycle enthusiast Gordon Massie relocated to Johnson City from Houston in late 2021, purchasing the former home of art gallery Echo that once operated as a Ford dealership in the 1930s. Motorcyclists and enthusiasts of all ages can peruse Massie’s collection of more than 70 classic motorcycles from the 1950s, ’60s and ’70s that he’s built up over the years.

Find it: 100 N. Nugent Ave., Johnson City, TX 78636
Hours: Thursday-Sunday, 11 a.m.-6 p.m.

Venture outside Johnson City

Lyndon B. Johnson State Park & Historic Site

Texas Hill Country has close ties to President Lyndon B. Johnson. Stonewall is his birthplace and Johnson City his home and final resting place. It’s worth seeing his old stomping grounds while you’re there. Start at the visitors center for a self-guided tour of the LBJ Ranch, which includes views of the Pedernales River, LBJ’s birthplace, the one-room school that he attended in 1912, the Johnson family cemetery where he is buried, and the Texas White House, where LBJ and Lady Bird lived and hosted leaders from around the world for more than 20 years. It’s also a sight to behold during bluebonnet season, which shouldn’t come as a surprise—Lady Bird Johnson was well-known for her love of wildflowers.

Find it: 199 Park Road 52, Stonewall, TX 78671; 830-644-2252
Hours: Daily 8:30 a.m.-4 p.m.

Pedernales Falls State Park is a popular hiking spot in Texas Hill Country.

Pedernales Falls State Park is a popular hiking spot in Texas Hill Country.

Texas Parks and Wildlife Department

Pedernales Falls State Park

The 5,200-acre park has trails for hiking, biking and horseback riding, campsites, scenic views, and of course, waterfalls and areas to swim or fish. Bring a picnic lunch to enjoy on the slabs of limestone next to tranquil swimming spots—just don’t leave anything behind. Day passes are $6 per person 13 and older.

Find it: 2585 Park Road 6026, Johnson City, TX 78636 (830-868-7304)
Hours: Daily, 8 a.m.-10 p.m.

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