Last week, my husband and I celebrated my birthday with dinner at Jett’s Grill at the Hotel Paisano in Marfa. The Hotel Paisano is a Marfa institution. The absolutely gorgeous hotel, owned by our neighbors Lanna and Joe Duncan, is a feast for the eyes, at every turn.
Designed by architect Henry Trost, groundbreaking for the hotel began just days before the stock market crashed and the Great Depression began in 1929. Construction resumed in June of 1930, and less than a year later, the hotel opened and was aptly described as, “the most elegant hotel between El Paso and San Antonio.”
In June of 1955, Warner Brothers Studio brought a little over 150 cast and crew to the Hotel Paisano to film a movie called, Giant. Elizabeth Taylor, Rock Hudson and James Dean were among those folks to be at the hotel for six weeks that summer.
I’d say the Hotel Paisano is more elegant now than ever. The Duncans have done a stellar job with the hotel, after buying it in a state of complete disrepair. It now has 41 rooms (including suites as well as original historic rooms), a seasonally heated pool, retail and office space, an enormous ballroom and conference space, fitness center, Giant memorabilia room, and a restaurant and lounge with courtyard seating. Everything, in my opinion, is picture perfect.
As we sat in the lovely restaurant, sipping our pre-dinner margaritas, a couple next to us asked the server how to get to the Marfa Lights Viewing Station from the restaurant, and other general questions about the Marfa Lights. The server said she’d never seen the Lights, and she’d heard they were car lights.
Because I just can’t help myself, and the “car lights” comment made me do it, I turned around and started sharing our personal Lights experiences with the couple, since we’ve seen them a number of times. The Lights have been around since way before cars, by the way.
Before we went to dinner, I’d decided I was going to order the famous Pistachio Fried Steak. Breaded and fried sirloin steak, served on a bed of mashed potatoes and drenched with a spicy jalapeno gravy, had my mouth watering just thinking about it. Turns out, my husband had his mind on the same meal. The vegetable of the day was Brussels sprouts (I love Brussels sprouts) with a balsamic vinegar reduction.
The Pistachio Fried Steak – think a step or two up from Chicken Fried Steak – was beyond my expectations. Crisp crust, tender meat, savory and spicy gravy… resting on a best of creamy mashed potatoes. Topped with a grilled jalapeno for more heat, this meal was perfect in every bite.
If I could’ve eaten everything on the plate, I would have. Instead, I could only eat about half and took the rest home, reheated and re-enjoyed it for lunch the next day. We didn’t even have room left for birthday dessert.
Jett’s Grill, located inside the wonderful Hotel Paisano, is open seven days a week. The bar opens at 2 p.m., and serves a light lunch menu alongside happy hour specials. The restaurant opens at 5 p.m., at the end of happy hour, with a full dinner menu that also includes vegan, vegetarian and gluten-free options. For reservations, call (432) 729-3838.
Jalapeno Cream Gravy
2 T. oil, preferably bacon grease
2 T. flour
1 jalapeno pepper, seeded and diced – less to your taste
1-2/3 cup whole milk
salt and pepper to taste
Cook jalapeno in oil until tender, about 5 to 7 minutes. Add flour and stir constantly with a whisk. When flour has cooked to a caramel brown color, add milk all at once. Stir constantly. At this point, season with salt and pepper. Start with a small amount because you can always add more if needed. When the gravy thickens and begins to boil – allow to boil for 1 to 2 minutes before removing from heat.
Printed with permission of the Alpine Avalanche