Where the Heck is Marfa, Texas?
|March 31, 2014||Posted by hog under Restaurant Reviews||
That’s what I wanted to know, when my college-age daughter invited me on an adventure to join her in Marfa for a cultural dose of spring break. Who needs frat bros in Florida, when you have a four wheel pick up to explore some famous art installations in Marfa?….and eat well, too.
It was truly an adventure to drive 3 hours west from El Paso, TX, stopping ever so briefly at the Prada installation –no, that is not a store, but an art installation of a one-shoe only Prada replica– and show up in a desert roadside town in West Texas where our first night was spent at El Cosmico, teepee style. Deluxe camping at its finest: electricity, a working sink and shower and a pretty comfy bed with an electric blanket. Swank for camping!
Marfa, TX was put on the map in the 70′s, when NY-based Donald Judd, the sculptor credited with inventing the live/work loft at 101 Spring Street, NY, convinced the art community to support his mission: to keep art in permanent installations where it fits best, not shuffle it around museum to museum gypsy-style. Three hundred acres later, the Chinati Foundation was formed, a nod to Judd’s big idea, housing his 100, 8x6x8 foot milled-steel. cube structures inside of original POW barracks alongside scrap metal pieces and neon light works by his two artistic friends.
The city, as a result of this infusion of NY sophistication, became a rather trendy and well-informed, albeit completely esoteric place: bookstores with the most hard-to-find art books, coffee shops hidden in laundromats, and a local watering hole in an old funeral home. Did I mention the hard to explain, possibly UFO lights? I better not or I will not get to the food.
Marfa’s finest restaurants are often souped-up food trucks. Food Shark, one of the most famous, which now also boasts Future Shark in bricks and mortar, warned us of enormously long lines. We lucked out with few ahead of us, but did have to wait 30 minutes for a marfalafel: the best flipping falafel on this side of the equator. Wow. Crispy. Greaseless. Spicy. Perfect. A little sweet tea and you’re all set. Until dinner.
Two great finds: Maiya’s and Cochineal were both sophisticated and simple. And, neither were trucks! Maiya’s was dare I say almost elegant: red walls, high ceilings, fantastic margaritas, and a funghi lasagne that can compete with the best of them. Light, layered and creamy. Cochineal, rumored to have been opened by NYers was also very much what you would find in LA, SF or NY. The asparagus with hollandaise and a fresh farm egg provided the perfect pair to my lentil salad and pork belly. Wow.
Breakfast at Buns N’ Roses, housed in a large corrogated metal hangar, was exactly what you would want in a little W. Texas town: eggs, bacon, ridiculously delicious iced donuts and of course a bowl of requisite cheese grits.
Amongst fantastic galleries, docent-led museum tours, exotic lodgings, desert sunsets, delicious food and oh those mysterious lights you might just jump plane to El Paso and drive yourself to Marfa. Please stop by Pizza Foundation, they were closed when we were there and we hear great things.
Food Shark: Under the Shade Structure off N. Highland (TRUCK)