Mando’s Restaurant and Bar, Marfa, Texas

I promised to touch on the Marfa art scene.

Marfa has extraordinary cultural resources for a small town in the high desert of West Texas.  Marfa has its own NPR station, an independent book store, 16 art galleries and the Chinati Foundation, and a foundation-funded writers-in-residence foundation.  Marfa is a sort of Mecca of minimalist art, which tends toward maximalist in size.    This kilometer-long line of concrete boxes is/are minimalist art in Marfa,

marfa art

but minimalist doesn’t mean small.

marfa big

As in any minimalist art center, you can get things like grilled radicchio with goat cheese, and you can spend $48 on a rib-eye steak.  Anthony Bourdain had a show about West Texas that included Marfa –“I drove three hours through ghost towns and dead gas stations and nothing but nothing, you know. Suddenly I arrived in Marfa. It’s like, ‘Would you like some bruschetta, some salumi, some $900 ponchos.’ What’s going on?”  There’s a “Prada Store” art installation in Marfa.  If you have the money, you can get a lot of high-end food in Marfa.

That’s one side of Marfa, but there’s more to Marfa than that.  Marfa is also a town of about 2,000 souls and a median family income of $32,000 per year.  It’s in a long barren stretch of West Texas, about an hour’s drive beyond the middle of nowhere.  Step away from the huge sculptures, and Marfa is another small, high desert Texas town, about 70 percent Latino, where they play high school football with six players on a side, and where they don’t wear $900- ponchos.  Mando’s Restaurant and Bar is part of that Marfa.

The 13th Annual National Parks Trip contingent went to Mando’s for breakfast on the hotel’s recommendation.  Everyone recommends Mando’s for breakfast.  It’s an old-style place with a lot of regulars, or at least people greeted by name.  In a town that size, odds are people will know each other.  Everyone is friendly, and Nancy, the waitress, was particularly nice.

Breakfast was great.  They had a cheese omelet, scrambled eggs with chorizo, huevos rancheros, and a breakfast burrito.  (Collectively, not each.)  Mando’s has great home fries, very good orange juice.

Some visitors to Marfa complain on Yelp that it’s a dive — “a scene from No Country for Old Men,” that they don’t have mimosas, that the food is all wrong for a ladies’ weekend from Dallas or Houston.  In short, it sounds like a wonderful place for breakfast.

There are a lot of reasons to go to Marfa.  Take advantage of the art, get some bruschetta and salumi, have some radicchio with goat cheese.  And do as everyone who lives in Marfa says, and have breakfast at Mando’s.


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