Texas Travel

Bellville: Butchers, Bakers, and Castle-Makers

By Chet Garner 1.1.19

Bellville’s a special place. I call it Texas’ spiritual center. It’s near where the first settlers set up shop and where Stephen F. Austin settled — and not far from where we signed our declaration of independence. The history of Texas definitely lives on here, and is just one reason to make a stop in this great little town.

The Historic Site

This San Felipe site marks the headquarters Austin established for his colony in Mexican Texas. That town was pretty much Texas’ first capital, but it’s now completely gone: just burned off the face of the earth. During the Texas Revolution, Austin and settlers torched it to the ground to keep it from falling into Mexican hands. The state has since set up the San Felipe de Austin State Historic Site, which anyone who’s a history buff or just a true-blooded Texan should see. Walk through the incredible museum, participate in historical votes, and check out the huge interactive displays and artifacts.

The Meat Market

Texas’ meat markets of the old days have been replaced by supermarkets with shiny aisles; rarely can you find a butcher who’s just a butcher. But the Bellville Meat Market is the real deal. They make 15 kinds of their own sausage and serve killer barbecue. You can get sliced brisket for lunch and pick up your steaks for dinner.

Bellville_Chet Garner

The Castle

Mike Newman is more than just the local kolache-maker. You’ll understand immediately why he has become a local institution — when you see the full-on castle he has built outside of town. And I mean an actual castle, with turrets, chapel, courtyard, keep, drawbridge, moat, and even a catapult. He just built it because he could. It’s surrounded by a perimeter wall. But he lets people in for tours every day (except Sunday), to climb the towers, run around, and fight imaginary dragons with a wooden sword. Where else can you find a guy like this?

Bellville_Chet Garner

The Blacksmith

Speaking of old-school butchers and bakers, this old-world town wouldn’t be complete without its vintage blacksmith. Phenix Knives is run by a guy named Cowboy. I don’t know if he even has a real name, he just goes by Cowboy. That’s what I love about this place. You can take classes and try your hand at blacksmithing here.

Bellville_Chet Garner

The Hill

It might not be as old school, but this retro burger joint’s been around since the ’50s. It’s kind of like The Hop — at the drive-in, you’ll see classic cars parked out front, and the customers have been going there for five generations.

Join Chet on more of his adventures around Texas here.

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