As part of a very fun four-day getaway to Dripping Springs, we enjoyed an incredible gourmet meal at Tillie's Restaurant & Bar. For the first three days in Dripping Springs we asked several people for their recommendation on the best restaurants in Dripping Springs - Tillie's was consistently recommended at the top of the list. Which means, we had to book a table for our last nights stay. Wow, what a wonderful experience!
Tillie's is located four miles west of Dripping Springs on the grounds of Camp Lucy, a sprawling rustic-chic guest ranch with unique lodging and one of the best wedding venues in Texas. Make sure you take Creek Road to get to Tillie's, it's a beautiful drive along the creek, over one lane bridges, and past ranches, huge sprawling oaks, grazing cattle and horses - a very relaxing and scenic drive. And when you get to the gate to enter Camp Lucy to drive up the hill to Tillie's you'll be amazed at how pretty this property is with rolling hills, a sparkling creek, impressive architecture, and very well maintained grounds and landscaping.
Once at Tillie's, you'll marvel at this unexpected architectural gem. The 19th century old town hall building that shapes Tillie’s is one of several reconstructed Vietnamese buildings at Camp Lucy. The town hall was taken apart piece by piece and carefully bubble-wrapped in Vietnam, shipped by boat to Houston, and then delivered to Camp Lucy. The beams still bear the chalk numbers used to keep track of which pieces goes where. When you walk through the turquoise doors and past the huge wine cellar you'll experience a colorful chapel-like space framed by soaring ironwood rafters, beautiful antique Vietnam decor that contributes to the romantic ambiance, a dramatic chandelier, and intricately carved wood accents with a wall of backlit saint statues.
The visual impact is immediate when paired with the brightly tiled floor and luxe leather seats. It was a warm evening when arrived and we got a table (stone table top and ornate silverware - not your typical flatware!) on the edge of a beautiful swimming pool - it just doesn't get much better! When our jaws finally closed and we took a look at the menu and immediately sensed that we were in for a very special treat.
The concept behind the experience of dining at Tillie's can be described as "American Nouveau." It's a term used to explain a cuisine that borrows from cooking traditions and techniques from all around the world to create something new and exciting. Tillie's culinary menu takes what’s familiar and infuses it with an array of international flavors to create something truly unique. As we were sipping our drinks, we were having a hard time deciding which of the sharables to try first.
After asking several questions, we decided on Blistered Shishito, not really knowing what to expect. We did Google Shishito and found out it is a mildly spicy, East Asian variety of the ground cherry pepper. Sounds good, so we ordered it and loved it! It was blistered and served with a delicious ginger sesame aioli, maldon (Google told us maldon is sea salt produced in Essex, England), and black sesame. Delicious and we quickly devoured every one and were tempted to order more - I think my wife ate more than her fair share.
Some of the choices for sharables included: Pupusa (carne guisada, pickled onion, cilantro crema, and angula salad); Fire Roasted Poblano Mac and Cheese with cavalappi (Italian word for corkscrew macaroni), smoked gouda, holy trinity (the holy trinity of Cajun and Creole cooking is made up of onion, celery and bell pepper), and smoked chicken as an add on; or Spicy Fried Brussel Sprouts with chili jam, orange supreme, pulled rice, and herbs. Now you may understand why it took us so long to decide on which sharable to enjoy and also why Tillie's is know for its array of international flavors!
Our sharable experience was followed by another twenty minutes trying to decide which large plates to order! The choices here were Pan Seared Chicken - heiroom carrots, squash, okra, rice, and nola pan sauce; Poke Bowl - Sashimi grade tuna, shshi rice, tamari, and green onion; Vegan Chile Relleno - mushroom walnut picadillo, roasted red pepper vinaigrette. pico de gallo, and cilantro foam; or Smoked Short Ribs with smoked green beans, okra, mashed potatoes, and greens. We finally decided on the Vegan Chile Relleno (the presentation was awesome and we hated to disturb it!) and Smoked Shorts Ribs and within 25 minutes our plates where clean as a whistle - everything was outstanding, cooked to perfection, and very flavorable. The Short Ribs we our favorite - they were so tender we could cut them with fork, very tasty with a delicious and delicate sauce, and perfectly cooked with tasty seasoned sides.
We were full, but we couldn't leave without trying one of the sweets - Chocolate Pot De Creme (with a name like that we had to pick it) which is brown butter roasted figs, coffee carmel, hazelnut crumble, and whipped cream. Unbelievable and quickly devoured. Tillie's menu is seasonal and menu items rotate often and there is always something new and exciting to try.
Even the cocktails at Tillie's were unique - for example, The Bourbonist included Four Roses Bourbon, Earl Gray tea, St German liqueur, allspice cinnamon simple syrup, and lemon (I'm thirsty just thinking about that) or the Lady Hancock which has Dripping Springs vodka, Lillet Blanc, house sweet and sour, luxardo cherry, fresh basil, and prosecco - I don't know what half of that stuff is, but it sure sounds tasty! The sommelier has developed a wine list with a broad range of offerings from around the world in an effort to give guests a few familiar, or not so familiar suggestion, to pair with their dining experience.
It's not surprising that Tillie's was named in Austin 360's 2019 list of the best Austin Area Restaurants and clearly recognized by the locals as the best of Dripping Springs. .
Tillie's was named after Attilia Aldridge Anderson Hancock (nicknamed Tillie), a world traveler who brought her international discoveries to Austin and its surrounding communities. Tillie married a prominent lawyer and banker, Lewis Hancock, who had established Austin’s first bank and after a visit to Scotland, they founded Austin Country Club which popularized golf in Austin and the state of Texas. More than 150 years later, her great grandson, Whit Hanks, developed Camp Lucy in 2008 and added Tillie's to the property in 2018.
What a unique and wonderful experience - we can't wait to get back. In fact, we are already planning a trip to come back to Dripping Springs for a weekend stay in one of the cottages at Camp Lucy and partake in another fabulous dinner at Tillie's.