Is Marfa Really That Great?
The short answer:
The long answer:
First of all, my apologies for getting around to writing this post a month after the fact. As I admitted in my last blog post, writing travel recap blogs does NOT come easily to me. In fact, I sort of hate it? But I did it. It’s done. Better late than never, right?
For 5 years now, I’ve been wanting to go to Marfa. Every single guy I’ve dated in those 5 years, I’ve told this to. And every single guy didn’t take me up on it (I hate men?). So, back in January when my sis suggested me make it a sister trip, I was like OMFG YOS HONNY.
Going into this trip, I had been told a few things about Marfa.
Don’t go in the summer or winter because the heat and the cold are unbearable.
The Dutch Tubs are a must.
EAT ALL THE FOOD.
So, we went in the spring, we booked a medium-sized trailer at El Cosmico because come on, we reserved a Dutch Tub, and we had a running list of everywhere to eat.
Now, with Marfa being so incredibly far west, it’s a bit of a bitch to get to. You have a few options: you can either drive (from Dallas, I think it’s 8 hours or so. Don’t know where you’re coming from, though) or you can fly into El Paso airport, rent a car, and drive 2 hours and 45 minutes to the tiny town. My sister and I opted for the latter since we a) don’t live in the same city/state to begin with and b) got our fill of long-ass 7+ hour road trips all throughout college, making the drive from Dallas to Kansas. And truly, it worked out great. We took an EARLY flight (like 8:30am), were in El Paso in a snap, and arrived in Marfa by 1pm.
Here’s the thing about Marfa: It’s literally a teeny tiny town made up of two streets and one stoplight, more or less. So, while I had tons of people sending me their Marfa lists of things to do, see, and eat, they all ended up being the exact same because THERE’S LITERALLY ONLY THOSE THINGS TO DO, SEE, AND EAT THERE. I’m not complaining, though.
Or am I? Keep reading.
I will say this about this mystical, hippie town smack in the middle of Literally Nowhere, Texas—if you’re a blogger or influencer or just someone who has a passion for photography, this is the #hotcon (hot content) capital of the south. The colors, landscape, and quirkiness of Marfa basically set up your shots for you. Anyone can look cool in these surroundings and trippy eateries and coffee shops. So if you’re looking for effortlessly dope pics, you’ll love Marfa just for that.
Overall, Marfa IS tight. It’s cool to see so much character and uniqueness packed into such a tiny part of Texas. But is Marfa worth a FULL weekend visit? Well. It depends. If you’re going with zero agenda and not looking for anything to do besides chill and eat and hang in your tent/trailer/yurt and smoke weed, yes. However, if you’re the more adventurous/active type, here’s my suggestion: Make the trip about Big Bend. The day my sister and I spent there was our favorite day, hands down. We drove away from our experience in Big Bend National Park wishing we had another full day there to explore. The park is so vast that it takes an hour and a half to get there from Marfa, and another full 30 minutes to really get INTO the park and find what trail you’re going to hike on, etc. We went by this list and ended up hiking Lost Mine Trail, and it was perfect. Not too easy, not too hard, and amazing views.
Plus, Terlingua (aka Ghost Town) is right there and very stayable. This was the exact plan a group of girls who got to Marfa around the same time we did on Thursday had. They were going to stay one night at El Cosmico, then drive to Big Bend Friday and spend all Saturday hiking. THAT is the correct plan when it comes to Marfa.
Again, Marfa is tight. But unless you’re there to chill SO HARD and have a LOT of sex with your SO (because of all the downtime), I think one full day and night there is more than plenty. You can hit almost every food spot in town (that is, if they’re open at the time of the year you’re visiting. Most restaurants and bars have very odd hours and some are just closed for weeks or months on end, so definitely look into that when planning your venture), see the art exhibits, and walk the length of the town in a day. As for the dutch tub, well. They’re only available from 6pm-12am, so if you’re wanting to chill there during the day, ya can’t. Which we were okay with but for as windy and chilly as it was at night when we were there, we decided to opt out and give our dutch tub reservation to other El Cosmico dwellers.
Instead, we ended up at the Hotel Saint George’s pool, Bar Nadar, all day Saturday, sitting in the hot tub and downing ranch waters and nachos and it was perfect. Bar Nadar is a new Marfa addition and offers a luxe swimming pool and hot tub, complete with a full-service bar with the best ranch waters I’ve ever had. Plus, since it was off-season, we got to hang for free. I’m not sure what the price of admission is during the summer months, but it’s worth it. Our feeling that we made the right choice against the dutch tubs was validated when we met a couple at Bar Nadar who frequent Marfa, and let us know that the dutch tubs are sort of boring and “never get that hot.”
All in all, I’m very happy I went and got to experience Marfa. Would I go back? Yes, but only if the main portion of the trip was in Big Bend, with a day-visit to Marfa as an added bonus. Truth be told, the best part about it (besides being there with my sister) was how, because the town is so tiny, most residents hold 2-3 jobs so your waiter one night could be your barista the next morning. It felt very “Seinfeld.”
So, just in case you find yourself venturing out west sometime soon, here’s the complete Marfa list of things we ate, drank, and did. It’s yours for the keeping. Do with it what you will, but like I said up there, just make sure these places are open when you’re visiting.
WHAT TO EAT AND DRINK IN MARFA
Food Shark. A food truck serving up all things mediterranean (think gyro, falafel, pita chips, etc). Best falafel I’ve ever had, and I don’t even love falafel.
Convenience West. Incredible BBQ. Opens at 5p and closes when it runs out of food (usually 8p, sometimes 7p). Get the brisket tacos or suffer the consequences (of me losing respect for you).
Cochineal. Marfa’s nicest restaurant, serving up a seasonally-diverse array of starters, mains, and desserts. Everything was gorgeous and insanely delicious. Make reservations FAR in advance.
Marfa Burrito. A literal shack house that serves up authentic ass (and HUGE ASS) burritos. Legit, they’re like double the size of a Chipotle one, so plan to split it. Or not. Whatever you fancy.
Hotel Saint George. We had dinner here our first night along with some strong drinks, and it was nice. Not AMAZING food, but good enough.
Thunderbird Hotel/Capri. Now, we WISH we had eaten HERE our first night. We went for after-dinner drinks and, while those were delightful and the atmosphere was great (live piano, too), the food others were enjoying there looked REAL good.
Planet Marfa. This is a completely outdoor bar that has the chillest vibes. We loved the scene, but it was ruined by a young guy who was blazed out of his mind with the driest, whitest lips you’ve ever seen inviting himself to sit with us, all the while overusing the words “dope” and “tight.” So, we peaced out early and ended up at…
Lost Horse Saloon. This is a true saloon. Like, I can’t say that I wasn’t living in fear of it getting shot up by neighboring cowboys the entire time we were inside. But, they had live music (two very overweight and extremely talented brothers) and the local crowd was nice enough, so we ended up staying for two drinks. Also, they allow dogs. So that was fun.
Do Your Thing. This is by far the most popular coffee & toast spot in this tiny town. They serve up unique drinks and delicious combinations of things you can put on toast. TBH, I didn’t have any of the toast but it looked good?
God, y’all. I’m sure I’m missing a ton of little details I could share, but I’m done. I can’t do it anymore. Traveling is the best, but writing a “what to do and see” post about is the WOAT. Aren’t you glad I never tried make it as a travel blogger?
TLDR: Marfa is fine, but Big Bend is better. If you make the trip out to West Texas, don’t waste too much PTO on Marfa. Instead, go to Big Bend and explore.