This past week, per our apparently annual family roadtrip, Mo & Co traveled to Marfa, Texas. Never heard of it? Don’t worry, neither did the majority of Texans we encountered. How’d we decide on this place then? A mix of “We need a place not too far, but not too close. Not too warm, but not too cold. Something off the grid, but on the grid just enough.” Thanks to Parts Unknown, this recipe cooked up an Anthony Bourdain porridge that satisfied us for our four day stint.
Since Marfa spans a radius of about 3 blocks, it does not have an airport. Well, it hardly has cell service, but we won’t get into that. Instead, the fam and I flew into Austin for convenience and to knock off an age old bucket list item of mine: visit the Ellsworth Kelly Chapel at the Blanton Museum of Art.
Despite the dreary, grey, rainy day, the Chapel enchanted all of us with its magnetic color spectrum and all around cleansing energy. Built as a fairly secular space, as Kelly himself was not particularly religious, this stop was the perfect prelude for a rejuvenating trip to close out 2018.
Once I soaked up as many colors as I could, we loaded into the car for the 6+ hour stretch ahead of us - Opa’s Sausage sandwich in hand.
Marfa, Texas, as I mentioned, is very small. In fact, the concierge at one of the hotels described it as “teeny tiny.” What Marfa lacked in visitor hospitality, it more than made up for in quirks and crannies. Every corner of said 3 block town was jam packed with tchotchkes, galleries, nouveau restaurants, and the same 25 people we saw at every moment of the day.
The only way to escape cabin fever? Drive another 30 mins outside the town center to the Prada Pop-Up on the side of the highway. While it has many fooled into thinking it’s an actual store, Prada Marfa is in fact solely an art installation - meant to tantalize Instagram followers and eventually biodegrade back into the earth.
In terms of ~art~ Marfa is actually quite well known for its relationship with the artist Donald Judd. While people might say Judd put Marfa on the map, townsfolk vehemently standby that Marfa existed well before then (which it did, but how many people knew about it…?) The crowning jewel of Marfa x Judd is The Chinati Foundation - which we purposefully saved for the last day of our trip in order to have something to look forward to each day. Pro tip: make a reservation in advance. Don’t get turned away at the door like we did. Don’t take pictures through the window like we did, you’ll get chased.
In terms of food, Marfa has a surprising variety to offer. There’s everything from local ambiance (like the Lost Horse Saloon, complete with spittoon buckets) to Beyoncé approved food trucks like Food Shark. While the former may have been true Marfa, I drastically preferred the latter - despite being unwilling to eat in the dining car because of its unique smell…
Other culinary highlights in this “teeny tiny” town included the famed Marfa Burrito - well worth the hype. If you’re headed to Stellina, make sure to arrive at 5pm for dinner (that’s when it opens and it’ll be full by 5:05pm). And don’t be afraid to make friends with your seat mates. As I said, the town is small and you’ll be running in the same circles as everyone. In fact you might even run into them in the communal showers at El Cosmico!
Which brings me to a note on accommodations in Marfa. Given our spur of the moment decision to travel there in the first place, lodgings were slim pickings. Luckily, we found an adorable Airbnb in the heart of town (across the sole grocery store and gas station) and later found ourselves in a Yurt at El Cosmico. Yes, a Yurt. Which Mo affectionately referred to as the “Yurp.” See it for yurtself in a follow up story to come soon…
All in all, Marfa was everything we anticipated, and then some. If you’re in the mood for a remote recharge complete with good eats, pleasing sights, and a touch of unpredictability, Marfa’s the place! Given its small stature and the limited things to do once you realize you don’t have a reservation at The Chinati Foundation, I’d say you could comfortably see the sights in ~2days. That is, if you save a separate day (and blogpost) for Big Bend.
Moral of the story? Treat Yurtself and check out Marfa, Texas. You won’t regret it or forget it.