OST (Old Spanish Trail) has been Bandera’s town cafe since 1921. Its roomy cypress booths and counter stools made of western saddles make it an especially appealing destination for hungry travelers in search of cowboy culture. One whole room is devoted to images of John Wayne; its spur collection includes rowels dating back to frontier days; and the buffet is set out under a downsized covered wagon. The buckaroo trappings make a lot of sense in Bandera, which is surrounded by dude ranches and has proclaimed itself “The Cowboy Capital of the World.”
The #1 cowboy dish in these parts is chicken-fried steak, and OST makes a good one: a tantalizing balance of crunch and tenderness with gravy that is cream soft but pepper sharp. On the side come hunky mashed potatoes and tiles of thick Texas toast. Beyond that, cafe menu highlights include such Tex-Mex stalwarts as enchiladas, fajitas, and chilies rellenos. Old-fashioned buttermilk pie is the great dessert; blackberry cobbler is excellent, too.