CLASSIC HILL COUNTRY DINER
Home-cooked chicken fried steak with cream gravy, Tex-Mex enchiladas, chuck wagon buffet, and sweet iced tea all sound like the standard noonday fare for Texans since the invention of the local diner. And these are exactly the meals you can still eat at the O.S.T. Restaurant in downtown Bandera. O.S.T. stands for “Old Spanish Trail”, a reference to the name of a proposed route designated by civic leaders across the southern U.S. who wished to improve highway access in 1915. Originally, leaders envisioned a two thousand eight hundred mile route from St. Augustine, Florida to the Pacific shores in San Diego, California. Each southern state was given ultimate responsibility for their section of the route, thus circuitousness often redirected plans, including an alternative tourist route that wound through Bandera County and the Hill Country, inspiring the opening of the O.S.T. Restaurant in 1921. Today, the O.S.T. is one of the last remaining original restaurants along the route and, despite the construction of Interstate 10 which became the de facto Old Spanish Trail route, the O.S.T. still draws hungry crowds daily, particularly for lunch. The quirky “John Wayne Room” (featuring, yes, all things John Wayne) is a favorite sit-down section as are the saddle-topped counter stools where you can enjoy your chicken fried steak without ever having to exit the stirrups.