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Stillwater Inn

Jefferson 

Photograph by Jeff Wilson

In Jefferson, time stopped in 1873. That’s the year the water level in Big Cypress Bayou fell, leaving the bustling river port quite literally high and dry. The city’s lovely old homes sat there for decades, like so many dragonflies in amber, until the people of Jefferson gradually began to reimagine their town as a historic tourist mecca. Today one of the most charming relics is the Stillwater Inn, which was opened in 1984 by chef Bill Stewart and his wife, Sharon. Bill’s stint in Dallas at the Adolphus Hotel’s French Room is still evident in the agreeably classic menu: jumbo escargots bourguignonne in outrageous puff-pastry caps; a butter lettuce salad with walnuts and bacon in a creamy vinaigrette; Dijon-lavished rack of Colorado lamb in a reduced wine jus with scalloped potatoes; and huge shrimp with lump crabmeat in lemony garlic butter sided by a lovely brown rice pilaf. The high-ceilinged dining rooms, painted cherry red and accented by white woodwork and dark oak floors, will take you back to the days when quiet conversation, not somebody’s Spotify play-list, provided the sound track for a nice dinner out. The shock of the new in Jefferson? Never. —Patricia Sharpe

Eat: Dinner Mon–Sat. Entrées $24–$51. Reservations required. 203 E. Broadway, 903-665-8415. 

Stay: The inn has one cottage, for $135. If it’s booked, try the Delta Street Inn, a B&B from the twenties with Craftsman detailing, or House of the Seasons, an 1872 mansion with accommodations.

Play: Walk or drive Alley, Delta, and Lafayette streets to see Classical Revival and Victorian homes from Jefferson’s glory days. And whether you stay there or not, the magnificent House of the Seasons is worth the $10 tour (reservations required).

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