Gruene Gristmill River Restaurant and Bar celebrates 45 years in business in May

The Texas-size onion rings ($22.99) are served double-battered and fried. They also come in smaller portions. (Photos by Eric Weilbacher/Community Impact Newspaper)

Gristmill River Restaurant and Bar celebrates 45 years in business in May as one of the main cornerstones of the revival of historic Gruene.

The restaurant’s original building began serving as a cotton gin in 1878 until the wooden parts of the structure burned down in 1922, leaving it derelict and in ruins. The three-storey boiler room – mostly of brick and stone – survived, and in 1977 was transformed into the first space to welcome customers to the current restaurant.

Adding to the original structure with expansive open-air terraces overlooking the Guadalupe River, the restaurant has over 130 tables for customers to keep full. Customers should expect to wait for a table, sometimes for more than an hour on busy weekends, said general manager Larry Abel.

While waiting, guests can wait in the beer garden and enjoy a drink and live music, or stroll through the village. On weekends, a rotating roster of musicians keep patrons waiting for entertaining tables in the garden, with Tony Taylor, Jackson Parten and Clifton Jansky frequently performing for guests, among others.

“One thing we’ve incorporated now is an iPad so you can put your name on hold, walk around town, and then we can give you a call or text. … We always had everyone hanging out here, and now they can experience the whole city,” Abel said.

Known for its American cuisine, the Gristmill offers chicken fried steak and other guest favorites.

“Aside from chicken fried steak, I would say onion rings [are most popular]”, Abel said. “The ribs have really gotten stronger over the last five to ten years. And then our burgers. I think we’ve done a great job with those.

The Gristmill also offers a full bar, and the margaritas are bestsellers.

“The one that’s really hot right now is the jalapeno margarita. This one sells very well. We make it every day and make it to order,” Abel said. “The secret recipe is lime juice. No syrups or anything like that.

The Gristmill Riverside Restaurant and Bar

1287 Gruene Road, New Braunfels 830-606-1287.

Opening hours: Sun.-Thurs. 11am-9pm, Fri.-Sat. 11am-10pm

About James Almanza

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