San Marcos, Texas is known mostly for three things: Outlet shopping malls, Texas State University, and the long-closed theme park Aquarena Springs. In fact, we were in San Marcos precisely for two of those three things. (We had a carload of teenaged girls, so I’ll let you figure out which two.) Word of mouth told us we should stop for lunch at a place called Centerpoint Station, just across the highway from those outlet malls.
And now we have a new favorite stop on Interstate 35!
So named because it’s midway between Austin and San Antonio, Centerpoint Station is a quirky combination of malt shop, boutique, bakery, museum of Americana, and home style restaurant, all of which is apparent even from the dirt parking lot. Fun signs decorate the building front, along with an antique gas pump, and an original neon Mobil Pegasus on the roof. The small porch will have you feeling like you’ve hit an American Pickers payday, and an inviting screen door leads you to rooms filled with knickknacks, candies, clothing, signs and more in the boutique. Just inside and to one side is the malt shop, with a soda fountain style counter that transports you to a scene from the Andy Griffith show. The smell of fresh bread and fried foods reaches you from around the corner and down a short hall, where the bakery and restaurant reside.
Everything leading up to the restaurant is fun to browse through, but the main attraction for us was the food. The menu is dominated by what they claim to be the Best Burgers in Texas. I don’t know that I’d go that far, but the Avocado Jack Burger I tucked into was pretty darned tasty. I swallowed my Big Guy Pride and ordered the quarter-pound “ladies version” with a side of (really good) onion rings, and was very glad I opted for the (relatively) smaller portion. (The “normal” order is a half-pound burger!) I also ordered fried pickles and was surprised (and dismayed) that they dipped and fried pickle spears, not slices; I had not noticed that the menu does indicate they are spears. The result was a bit mushy and really only tasted of warm pickles.
Our group’s order included a variety of burgers, since that was the claim to fame. All were grilled to perfection and served with crispy toppings, melty cheeses, and freshly baked buns. Someone had the nerve to order the Chicken Tender Platter, which was good enough to be gone in under 60 seconds, and a we tried desperately to save room for desert but only managed a taste of the San Marcos River Mud; chocolate sheet cake (though more like a brownie) topped with vanilla ice cream. It was good, but nobody was upset that they hadn’t saved room for it.
The floats, on the other hand, were totally worth it. Granted, floats are not exactly difficult to make, but something about coming in off the highway and sitting down with a Creamscicle Float is heavenly. You could opt for a traditional root beer float, the Black Cow, or get crazy with a Purple Cow, trading in the root beer for grape soda. There are a half-dozen other flavors, all made with Texas’ own Blue Bell Ice Cream. Centerpoint Station is also said to be home to the best malts on I-35, which we did not put to the test, and their bakery had an impressive display of kolaches, cupcakes, and wonderful smelling pecan cinnamon rolls.
While there are many great dining options in Austin and San Antonio, if you’re “just passing through” it’s worth driving past the big cities to either side and saving up your appetite for Centerpoint Station.
Visiting San Marcos? Find your hotel here.
See more from our Texas Roadtrip
- Restaurant – Recreation – Trailer Court: Austin’s Shady Grove (Review)
- For the Love of Fruitcake – the Collin Street Bakery
- Our Stay at the Sheraton Austin at the Capital
This review was neither solicited nor compensated; We just dropped by unannounced and ate like pigs. All opinions and photographs are our own.