So you’ve made your way from Houston or even Dallas to the Hill Country and our fair town and you’re wondering, “Hmm…what to do in Kerrville?”
Chances are you’ve already arranged where to stay after your long trip from elsewhere in Texas, because, let’s face it, coming here from the west or east or north can be a haul; even from South Padre can take 5.5 hours, and you might decide to stop at the Staghorn in Three Rivers for lunch.
The next morning, whether weekday or weekend, you’re probably going to want to go to Historic Downtown Kerrville for a coffee and some light breakfast. Bagel. Scone. Maybe a taco with eggs and bacon. That sounds about right.
But you’ll want coffee, no doubt.
And there are few places downtown with better coffee than PAX Coffee and Goods.
To be fair, you won’t find many places downtown for coffee anyway, but PAX brews and baristas with the best of them in greater Kerrville, and there are a couple of reasons in particular why PAX is ideal for morning coffee, especially on weekends.
Stay up late, wake up latte
PAX almost became a “permanently closed” dot on Google Maps and Yelp in February 2019, before it was bought and re-opened under new management.
While the owner and staff have changed, the coffee quality has remained high.
As its website describes, “PAX was created with the intention of providing a unique and beautiful place to gather in Historic Downtown Kerrville, while enjoying well-crafted coffee and in-house made goods.”
And it is “well-crafted.”
I’m not a latte guy — more of a “black coffee, no room for cream”-kind of man; like the “Scotch, neat” elegance for those of us who had one too many Scotch-neats in our earlier days. My wife, Karen, usually gets a whole-milk latte or a coffee with half-and-half, but I had to try one (a latte)…for the photo of course. All the baristas do great work at “crafting” coffees, and this one pictured is by Jessica, who has the 5 AM to Noon shift.
I’m not going to link to Trip Advisor’s account of PAX, because the most recent review is two years old and some important details have changed.
For starters, the scones are bigger. A lot.
This is important if you like scones.
I mean, it’s kind of the point. Why have a scone that a Trip Advisor reviewer in March 2018 described as “somewhat small but […] very fresh and tender, not at all dry,” when you can have one that is “very fresh and tender” and not at all small? I’d go for the latter.
If you’re not a scone person — and I have a story to go with that, which Karen would have to tell you personally, because she’s a lot better at telling it, as she is about most stories worthy of being told — then perhaps you’re a coffee cake person.
I’d like to claim that I don’t have a photo of the coffee cake because they are too big to fit into the camera frame. Truth is that I forgot to take a photo.
Suffice it to say: remember those coffee cakes that Starbucks use to sell, like, years ago? Before everything there got “somewhat small,” and not so fresh? Well, PAX sells coffee cakes that have all the good internal attributes and also are big. Like a 3.5- to 4-inch cube.
If you don’t want a scone or a coffee cake or a strawberry rhubarb muffin or another confection, there are also breakfast standards that can double as brunch or even lunch.
The salmon on a bagel with cream cheese is hard to beat, as is the avocado toast. They also have very healthy oatmeal options (that come in a heatable cup, but are very tasty).
A peaceful workspace
Many of us work when we get our morning coffee. (Perhaps because of COVID more of us will work remotely in coffee shops.)
PAX is a great place to work, with a banquette along the wall with outlets underneath every four or so feet and five or so tables seating two people each. (There are also tables in the middle of the space for groups of 2-4 people.) At any one time you’ll see three or more people working along the banquette, and two or three tables of quiet conversation, with the occasional and not-unpleasant guffaw.
All this adds to PAX’s appeal as both a workspace and also a great (and low-cost, high-value) meeting place in downtown Kerrville.
I also like to go to Pint & Plow on Clay and Jefferson Streets.
This is a much larger and completely different vibe. While it’s off the beaten path of downtown and is less walkable (and also has less parking nearby), it has an unparalleled outdoor area that is fairly unique to Kerrville and pretty much a one-of-a-kind space in the downtown area.
It simply makes you “feel good” to be there, as does PAX. More on Pint and Plow another time.
Starbucks is always here
If you must go to Starbucks, it’s up a ways off Junction Highway on the left, just before the AT&T Store. It’s across from Wendy’s on the right (headed north).
While I largely dismiss it for being what it is (Starbucks), it is a benefit to the community, does have a workspace inside, did offer its partners a reasonable alternative for working during the first part of COVID (a raise in hourly pay or paid time off), and also boasts a wonderful patio with umbrellas over tables. The view looks out over the Guadalupe, and this view is found only at a few places — one downtown at Grape Juice, a bit up Water Street at Thai Ocha, and then north of Starbucks at a couple of restaurants (Billy Gene’s, The Boat and one or two others).
There’s a second Starbucks opening on Sidney Baker closer to I-10 (a coup by our Chamber of Commerce; will invite travelers off the Interstate to visit us) and in front of Hobby Lobby.
What to do in Kerrville, south of the (downtown) border
If you happen to be staying in Kerrville’s up-and-coming East End, a coffee option that also serves full meals is Monroe’s East End Grill. Monroe’s lounge area is quirky but very comfortable, resplendent with overstuffed leather chairs.
And if you want no-frills coffee, which Karen and I like, you can try the Texas Pecan coffee at the Valero on Broadway (just steps from East End Market and River Trail Cottages, or the surprisingly good coffee at Stripes on the corner of Memorial and Loop 534. (Visitors: Junction Highway in the north turns into Main Street, turns into Broadway, turns into Memorial, turns into TX-27 toward Centerpoint and Comfort.
But if you’re looking around for something to do in Kerrville, or a great coffee experience where shopping and parking is close by, try PAX.
203-205 Earl Garrett St, Kerrville, TX 78028