If you asked us last year where our destination of choice would be, not sure we would have said Marfa. While Marfa was somewhere we always wanted to go, we didn’t even know where to start – Until we just went. Now, three times later, we consider ourselves ‘sorta’ Marfa aficionados. After our first trip there, now the question everyone seems to ask is “What do y’all even do there?” each time we depart for West Texas. And here’s the deal – a lot of nothing, and a bunch of everything. Marfa is the wonderful anomaly where we’re totally okay with doing nothing, yet there are so many things to do, and some of those things (okay … most of those things) include the best eats around.
Marfa gets to be whatever it wants to be, and each restaurant in its tiny populous follows those same rules. On our last excursion to the desert, we ran across a closed Stellina in the heart of downtown – and we knew that we’d be back shortly. So it should come as no surprise that Stellina was the first place we visited on Marfa round three. Even on the outside, Stellina holds all the charm and intrigue you could ever want. It’s a simple white building, with brightly colored chairs and a neon blue sign hanging above. Starting at 5PM you’ll find laughing patrons in the window idly sipping on wine and a specially curated menu based around the seasons.
Stellina is self-described as Mediterranean home-cooking. The restaurant itself is minimal in design with high-ceilings and a gorgeous community table. The staff welcomes you in as if it’s their home and encourages you to sit where you like. The wine and bubbles list is extensive, and trick of the trade here – Just order the bottle. You can thank us later. All of their starters are very much a Mediterranean with a hint of Italian-fusion. For the first night (you read right – we went twice) we partook in the whipped feta and carrot hummus with pita chips. The more and more we encounter whipped feta, we’re just unsure of where it’s been our entire life. The flavor profiles were boldly Mediterranean, and we had a hard time not scooping every bit off the plate. Patricio went with the wild boar ragu and pappardelle, while I went with the lamb chops and mint puree. There were no notable flaws in either of this dish – but if I could eat one for the rest of my life it would have been Patricio’s pasta. The pasta was made in house and the ragu bold and savory. The lamb chop was just as decadent and the fresh mint puree cut the meat exactly how it was supposed to be. That was night one.
"One of the things Patricio & I
have learned to do is order different dishes
(even if we want the same)."
"Get there early,
settle in and
find the perfect chair to enjoy each
Night two we skipped the starter and went straight for pasta and dessert. One of the things Patricio and I have learned to do is order different dishes (even if we want the same). While I was immediately drawn to the walnut pesto with orechetti, Patricio wanted to try it out so I went with the homemade spaghetti and meatballs. Sounds a little listless – but this isn’t your Monday night spaghetti. These pastas were both made in house again and the sauces were comprised of the freshest ingredients. We almost were too full for dessert but we couldn’t resist an olive oil cake with blueberry compote. The olive oil gave this spongy delight a buttery texture and brightened the blueberries. You would have never known we were full after the waiter took away an empty plate.
Stellina is a must-go. They’re only open Tuesday – Saturday starting at 5PM, so word of advice? Get there early, settle in and find the perfect chair to people-watch and enjoy each other’s company. The food is going to be great, the wine list solid and you almost forget that in such a deliciously complex restaurant you’re sitting in the West-Texas desert. But you are – and that’s the beauty of Marfa, TX. Stellina is forever on our list of favorites, and we can’t wait to get back.