The cheek-by-jowl shops lining Main Street make this Central Texas town look like Christmas year-round. Though the community was founded by German settlers, its best restaurants have nothing to do with the Black Forest. The Nest, in a remodeled old house, is serene in basic buff, accessorized with a few judiciously placed black and white photographs. Diners who can tear themselves away from the signature steamed mussels in a buttery, cilantro-tinged sauce find plenty of variety in dishes like mahimahi in ginger-lime beurre blanc or a half-chicken stuffed with spinach and portobellos in a rosemary demi-glace (607 S. Washington, 830-990-8383; dinner ThursdayMonday). Dressy but never stuffy, the Navajo Grill has moved to a restored house just east of downtown, but the menu still emphasizes Southwestern dishes like breast of chicken Chimayó, marinated with New Mexico chiles and topped with chipotle aioli. A sumptuous Stilton-stuffed filet sounds an international note (803 E. Main, 830-990-8289; dinner daily, Sunday brunch). At the Fredericksburg Herb Farm , you can dine casually in a little converted greenhouse or under the trees next to a honeysuckle-covered arbor. Delicious lunchtime salads and sandwiches come adorned with fresh flowers. So do midday entrées like tender grilled shrimp with wonderful, bright-tasting guacamole. Dinner might be juicy quail with roasted-garlic mashed potatoes (405 Whitney, 830-997-8615; lunch daily, dinner Friday and Saturday).
Only twenty or so miles from Louisiana, Jefferson exudes Southern gentility like a whiff of White Shoulders. Its antebellum mansions and Victorian cottages are the real thing, not Disney re-creations. At the helm of the lovely, high-ceilinged Stillwater Inn Restaurant for twenty years, chef and co-owner Bill Stewart is as skilled at sautéing a pecan-crusted trout filet as he is at roasting a breast of duck, and his perfectly balanced vinaigrette should be bottled (203 E. Broadway, 903-665-8415; dinner MondaySaturday). Even though it’s in the 1851 Jefferson Hotel, busy Lamache’s Italian Restaurant feels more twenty-first century than nineteenth. Standbys like lasagne share menu space with dishes like lobster and artichoke hearts in a dauntingly rich white-wine cream sauce (124 W. Austin, 903-665-6177; lunch and dinner WednesdaySunday). The historic Excelsior House dining room serves only breakfast, but what a breakfast. As you sit at a long table amid antique