The Water Stop in Marfa

When leaving Fort Davis and heading south, you are faced with two options at “the Y”: left or right.

Turning left takes you through the mountains and rocky pass, about 24 minutes down Highway 118 to Alpine. You might spot an elk or two on this route, grazing in the lush greenery near Calamity Creek. Several times, after rains, we’ve spotted cascading waterfalls pouring down the volcanic mountains on the left… an amazing sight not often seen out here in the high desert. Keep on 118 and you’ll find yourself down in the desert outside of Big Bend National Park.

Turning right takes you down Highway 17 through wide open ranchland, speckled with volcanic outcroppings along the way, for about 20 or so minutes to Marfa. Keep heading south on 17 and you’ll end up at the edge of the world (or at least the state) in Presidio, after a very scenic drive through the epitome of West Texas.

Neither road should be taken without having enough sipping water in the car with you.

Our Sunday cruise this past weekend included the question, “Left or right?” And right it was… we were Marfa bound.

About twenty minutes later, the next question of “left or right,” where the answer was, “right at Highway 90,” found us in front of a water stop on the highway.

By definition, a water stop is a place (as on a stage road) where water is regularly available. This water stop was unlike any found on a stage road… this was The Water Stop in Marfa.

Located in the white building that previously housed MarPho, next door to RABA Marfa boutique and the bright green DIRT truck that sells rescued cacti, The Water Stop was a very welcomed respite from the record heat we’ve been enduring lately.

We walked up to the counter and were given menus.

I was wavering between the Roasted Chicken Torta and the Shrimp Ceviche Tostadas, because I adore shrimp everything. The Special of the Day was Chicken and Waffles with Bacon and Whipped Cream and Berries. He ordered the Chicken and Waffles, I got the Roasted Chicken Torta.

My torta was a huge, super soft roll filled with roasted chicken, avocado, sweet potato, pickles, mayo and a spicy jalapeño sauce for dipping. Both of our meals were fresh, flavorful and outstanding.

We ordered a couple of waters dispensed from a large glass jar with fresh mint leaves floating in it. The selection of beer and wine, as well as a cider on tap, was impressive. Fresh squeezed juices, and even a “Ginger Shot” made with lemon, cayenne and turmeric (one of my favorite health tonics) was available. I’ve never seen that available at an eatery, and appreciated the health consciousness of the owner, Chef Rebecca.

We ended up sitting outside under the new shade cover, and despite the heat, the West Texas breeze kept us comfortable. A patron’s dog named “Hal” sat with us, and got scraps once in a while because he didn’t beg. We thoroughly enjoyed our meals, and didn’t have much to share with the canine moocher.

They also serve organic roasted chickens, which people rave about. Next time, I’m having the Shrimp Ceviche Tostadas. Or maybe roasted chicken and Jalapeño Mac and Cheese. Or the locally famous biscuits and gravy. Beautiful salads are pre-made to grab and go.

(I snagged this photo from their social media)

Their sign out front says, “Good Food.” That’s the truth.

Don’t take the long drive through the dusty desert without a visit to The Water Stop. They’re open seven days a week, from 11 a.m.-4 p.m. Located at 1300 W. San Antonio in Marfa, call them at (432)295-3732. Give them a “like” on Facebook at The Water Stop.

Jalapeño Mac and Cheese with Bacon

3 cups dry elbow macaroni

¼ cup butter

2 large fresh jalapeños, seeded, deveined and finely chopped

1/3 cup all purpose flour

2 cups whole milk

2 cups half-and-half

3-1/2 cups (14 oz.) shredded Extra Sharp Cheddar Cheese

1-1/2 cups (6 oz.) shredded Mexican Blend cheese

¼ teaspoon sea salt

¼ teaspoon black pepper

¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper

1 teaspoon dry mustard powder

12 ounces smoked bacon, cooked crisp and crumbled

¾ cup plain panko crumbs

2 tablespoons melted butter

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. In a large stock pot, bring four quarts of water to a boil. Once boiling, add dry macaroni and cook for 9 minutes. Drain and set aside.

Melt the butter in a large stock pot. Add minced jalapeño and cook 1 minute. Add flour and cook 2-3 minutes. Whisk in milk and half-and-half. Bring to a boil and then cook for 2-3 more minutes until it’s thickened, whisking continuously. Remove from heat.

Add cheeses, salt, peppers and mustard to butter/flour/half-n-half mixture, and stir it until the cheese is melted. Add the crumbled bacon and macaroni and stir until fully combined.

Pour into a greased 3 quart baking dish. Combine panko crumbs and 2 tablespoons melted butter. Sprinkle over the top of the dish filled with Mac and cheese goodness.

Bake 30 minutes until top is golden brown. Yum.

Printed with the permission of the Alpine Avalanche

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