A handful of the couples we’ve filmed lately have told us that they really want to travel to Marfa, Texas. We recently had the opportunity to travel to Marfa to film a Super 8 wedding film for a San Antonio couple, a stunningly beautiful affair at Cibolo Creek Ranch, about 30 miles south of Marfa, and we added on a few days to soak in Marfa and West Texas on our second trip there. We keep hearing that Marfa is becoming a big destination wedding hotspot, just look at wedding blogs like Style Me Pretty and Green Wedding Shoes to see that’s true, and we even heard from a local that there are three weddings a weekend there through the fall. That’s a lot of weddings for a town of 2,000! We’ll have our latest Marfa wedding film to share with you in a few weeks. In the meantime, we thought we’d share with you a few of our favorite things in Marfa — to do, stay, and eat — while visiting! And stay tuned, Monday we’ll share some favorite photographs from the area and we’re also getting some 35mm and 120 film developed, too!
Where to Stay in Marfa
Stay Marfa – This is where we stayed on our most recent trip, and it’s a great deal that I am glad a friend told me about. Full apartments ranging in size serve as a great home base while you’re in West Texas and kitchenettes & BBQ grills help you cook your own food in a town where the restaurant schedules can be a little random (more below).
Thunderbird – We stayed at the Thunderbird on our first trip to Marfa. Created by Liz Lambert’s Bunkhouse, the same force behind Austin’s Hotel San Jose, this restored motor court has sleek West Texas-inspired furnishings and a pool to cool off in.
El Cosmico – In the same family as the Thunderbird, El Cosmico’s for those looking to get way out and even rough it a little. While we haven’t stayed there, we did visit in 2011 for the Railroad Revival Tour, and it’s a mystical spot with community and art with Airstreams, trailers, Teepees, safari tents, and tent camping under the big, blue West Texas Sky.
Hotel Paisano – For the history buff, the Hotel Paisano is a good bet, as it’s a National Historic Landmark and was the headquarters for the film “Giant.” It has a gallery, grill, and gift shop. You can also get married at the Paisano!
Cibolo Creek Ranch – This is where we filmed the amazing wedding, about a half hour south of Marfa on 30,000 acres in the Chinati and Ciénega Mountains of the Big Bend. The fort is in a huge ancient volcanic crater, and the grounds feature all sorts of wildlife. It’s a stunning and magical place. You can get married there in style or stay in one of the rooms.
Where to Eat in Marfa
Eating in Marfa is a delicate balancing act of knowing when to look where. Lots of things seem closed early in the week especially Monday – Wednesday, and more is open on the weekends. If you get really stumped, the locals will point you in the right direction of where’s your best bet, or if all else fails, The Get Go grocery has a lot of take-away options and there is another grocery store on the main highway.
Cochineal – An oasis of amazing food in this little desert town. We had the fried artichoke appetizer aioli , poached salmon, and–as Mike has said–the best pork chop he’s ever had. The menu changes daily, and it’s open daily except Wednesdays; reservations recommended.
Fat Lyle’s – decadent Southern food via a trailer, across from El Cosmico. Closed Wed.
Food Shark – Mediterranean via a trailer, near the train tracks downtown. Thurs. – Sat. lunch.
Future Shark – A daytime cafeteria and lounge from the people that brought you Food Shark, downtown on the square. Monday through Friday.
Maiya’s – Lots of pasta choices in an upscale atmosphere. The Penne Puttanesca was delicious, the Basil Pesto Penne and salads were just alright. Reservations recommended.
Padre’s – Your best bet for a burger, a round of pool, a beer, and maybe some live music. Closed Mondays & Tuesdays.
Pizza Foundation – I am still thinking about their delectable thin crust pizza. We had the white pizza and it was delicious. Friday – Sunday only.
Squeeze Marfa – Wifi, juices, smoothies, coffee, the best chai I’ve had in a long time, breakfast, lunch sandwiches. Closed Monday.
The Get Go – Unique, friendly grocery store open 9-8 daily.
What to Do in Marfa
Chinati Foundation – The Chinati and Judd foundations are at the heart of Marfa and are a large part of what made Marfa what it is today. We visited the Chinati Foundation on a Selections Tour and saw works by Donald Judd, Dan Flavin, and John Chamberlain.
Judd Foundation – To delve even deeper in the world of Judd (so integral to the town, look at how many buildings on the main square carry his name), visit the Judd Foundation, charged with maintaing and sharing Judd’s living and working spaces, libraries, and archives.
Prada Marfa – A much beloved and photographed art installation about 30 minutes outside of Marfa in Valentine, Texas, draws people from all over the world. If you’re lucky enough to be in the area on a weekday, you might just get to take in this oasis in the desert all on your own.
Marfa Lights – Not for lack of trying, but we’ve yet to see the Marfa Lights! I am a believer however as many of my friends have seen them. It’s recommended that you might have the best luck around dusk, and there’s a viewing area from which to gaze.
Velvet Antler – There is not a lot of shopping in Marfa, unless you time it just right and there seems to be some turnover, but I did pop in to this boutique and enjoyed talking to the owner–originally an Austinite. They have clothes, accessories, handmade products, and jewelry–I picked up a simple necklace from Austin’s Son of a Sailor as a memento of the trip.
Visit Terlingua & Big Bend – This trip was my first time to both Terlingua and Big Bend. I’d heard about Terlingua a while back and the idea of the Ghost Town captured my imagination, and it delivered in person. Stop into the Terlingua Trading Company for a map (for a dollar donation) of the main sites of the Ghost Town and a chat with the owner. For Big Bend, I’d recommend more than a day trip and hikes to explore it all. Though we did have a wonderful time covering as much as we could in a day, and I look forward to going back to camp some day. I’ll have more photos of Terlingua and Big Bend Monday and when we get the film developed!
I hope this list of recommendations helps if you’re lucky enough to make the trip soon–or are starting to plan a destination wedding there.