The Restaurants, Hotels and Shops You Need to Know

Best known as the bucolic backdrop for the 1998 big-screen drama Hope Floats starring Sandra Bullock and Harry Connick Jr., Smithville has been quietly undergoing a revival, bringing locals, weekenders and Hollywood filmmakers back to its picturesque town square after decades of neglect. Business owners from Austin to California have fallen in love with this Texas town’s rolling hills and prime location near the Colorado River, so much so that they’ve decided to open a variety of shops, restaurants and new lodging options.

Suddenly Smithville, a town of 4,500 that’s 35 miles from Round Top, is a true destination. This is your guide to exploring one of Texas’ most surprising hot towns.

Where To Eat

Carne Lenta

This former barbeque joint has been revived as a taco emporium headed by none other than Simon Madera of the successful Taco Flats restaurants in Austin. You’ll get classic tacos like carne guisada and barbacoa and trendy options such as birria, brisket and smoked sweet potato from inside a vintage auto repair shop called the Vasek Garage. The Garage Bar sports bar that Madera operates alongside the taco shop kicks out killer cocktails.

Both Carne Lenta and The Garage Bar are opens Thursdays through Sundays. Give them a call to reserve large group events. 114 NE. 2nd Street, Smithville (512) 237-1422, @carnelenta.

The Blazer Bar and Grill

This sports bar serves elevated cocktails and scratch made food that leans decidedly Tex-Mex. Nachos, tacos, burgers (including a veggie option) and sandwiches round out the menu. It’s owned by a US military veteran who’s also the former executive chef of the Venice Ale House in Venice Beach. Frank River’s vision for a “redneck, shit-kicker bar that serves healthy gourmet food” has become a reality.

River says everyone is welcome at The Blazer Bar. In his 30 years in the food and drinks business, River has served everyone from George W. Bush to Pink. But he insists you leave your politics at the front door. Grab a few pool cues or a set of darts for post-dinner games and drinks. 

303 Main Street, Smithville, (512) 798-7100,

The Front Room

Gathering place: locals catch up at The Front Room. (Photo by Don Hoffman)

This designated town watering hole was created by Scotland native Victoria Allen. Sit by the fireplace and gossip with the locals in the cozy, traditional interior of the Scottish-inspired pub (think dark wood, leather seating, and posh carpets) or out front in the sidewalk seating area if you can find a spot. It’s usually packed.

Televisions and the usual rowdy pub games are banned at The Front Room to encourage quiet conversation and true connection. Small bites, hearty entrees and pizzas, a selection of beers and an extensive wine and cocktail menu await. 116 Main Street, Smithville, (512) 237-3626,


Entrepreneur Steve Simmons of Austin-based Amy’s Ice Creams and Phil’s Icehouse has reimagined Smithville’s circa 1909 diner as Honey’s pizza parlor. Simmons spent a year studying the art of Neapolitan style pizza making and creating recipes for the menu at the restaurant, which is named after the fictional Honey’s Diner in the movie Hope Floats.

A custom larger-than-life mosaic installation of “Queen Margherita” greets diners from the back wall of the restaurant next to the wood-fired pizza oven. Located in a former diner behind the historic Pines Hotel off Smithville’s main drag, Honey’s serves up hand-tossed pizzas, craft beers and cocktails. Weekly chef-crafted dinner plates often feature seafood.

Dine indoors, or on the picnic tables in the courtyard. Not to be missed are the frozen cocktail creations slung by Slushes from Honey’s slushie truck in the courtyard on Fridays and Saturdays. 109 Northeast 2nd Street, Smithville, (512) 237-5627,

Golden hour: dining al fresco at Honey’s Pizza. (Photo by Don Hoffman)

Hope Floats Ice Cream & Bake Shop

Named for the movie that made Smithville famous, the sweet shop will be the newest addition to the town square when it opens this summer. Created by the owners of Your Mom’s restaurant, Ryan and Regina Blackmore, Hope Floats will serve over-the-top ice cream floats and pastries.

It’s all about balance, though. Grab-n-go soups, salads, sandwiches and fresh-pressed juices are also in the works. 109 NW 2nd Street, Smithville.

Your Mom’s

The name says it all. You’ll find comfort food with a Cajun influence at this hometown diner. Ryan and Regina Blackmore created a menu influenced by her grandfather, a Louisiana oyster farmer. The Your Mom’s menu features chicken fried steak, stuffed burgers, pot roast and specialties like gumbo, oysters boudin, shrimp picayune and tarte à la bouillie.

Don’t miss the family-recipe hand-breaded fried chicken served with sides. Perhaps smoked gouda grits and corn maque choux. 109 NW 2nd Street, Smithville, (512) 575-3585,

Where To Stay

The Gresham House

Modern amenities and contemporary country style meet at this renovated property built in 1937. Smithville natives Scott and Brenda Mitchell purchased the property in 2012 and began renting out the space in 2014.

With two bedrooms and two-and-a-half baths, this vintage home is the perfect weekend getaway for a small group. A full kitchen provides the opportunity to create your own meals or enjoy the short walk into town for dining and shopping.

Rates at The Gresham House are $195 Sundays through Thursdays and $225 on Fridays and Saturdays. 601 Gresham Street, Smithville, (512) 575-5253,

Rave reviews: The Katy House gets top marks from lodgers. (Photo by Don Hoffman)

The Katy House Bed & Breakfast

The Katy House can be found in an early-1900s Italianate-style home built as a private residence by Smithville’s first residential developer J.H. Chancellor. It served as a doctor’s office in the 1940s and opened as a lodge in 1994.

Looking to slow down, Austinites Tiffany and Joe Prior purchased the business in 2019 and now reside in Smithville. Joe Prior is the former executive chef of Trulucks in downtown Austin and Tiffany Prior brings a background in hospitality with Marriott and caring for young adults with disabilities.

Each of the six rooms at the house has a private bath and a beverage-stocked fridge. Rooms are decorated with contemporary and vintage French-inspired furnishings. The Katy House is also walking distance to Smithville’s charming town center.

Summer weekend rates range from $159 to $199 per night. 201 Ramona Street, Smithville, (512) 237-4262,

Marvelous Maison

Designed as a ladies’ retreat in the country, this charming three-bedroom Victorian-style rental house was built in the 1920s. Renovated by British event planner and entertainer to the stars Sophie Parrott of The Marvelous Vintage Tea Party Company and Marvelous Events (she’s hosted the likes of Regina King, Lyle Lovett and Sarah Paulson at her fantastical fêtes), the Marvelous Maison is made for fun and frolic.

From the garden turret room to the pink vintage camper parked out back. You can even add a private yoga class, tea party or champagne setup to your stay. Marvelous Maison sleeps up to eight guests. Rates start at $433 per night. 200 Garwood Street, Smithville, (970) 946-7565,

Warm welcome: the living room at the Marvelous Maison. (Photo courtesy of the Marvelous Maison)

Where To Shop


Consuela is the small-town outpost of Austin-based artist Conni Reed’s wildly popular handbag brand. Nominated by Forbes as a “Small Giant” in 2020, Consuela has stocked its Smithville store with the same “unmatched” made in Mexico handbags, accessories and gifts found at the Austin flagship. 110 NW. 2nd Steet, Smithville, (512) 237-1411,

Mosaic Art & Home

After a 2011 wildfire destroyed their home elsewhere in Bastrop County, Jeri and Walter Winslett moved to Smithville and opened a haven for local artists to sell their workYou’ll find a wide variety of paintings, pottery, jewelry and home accessories — including gifts and seasonal items — at Mosaic Art & Home.

Featuring whimsical furniture pieces created by Texas artist David Marsh, this is the place to find something truly unique. 218 Main Street, Smithville, (512) 360-2531,

In living color: Consuela’s Smithville outpost. (Photo courtesy of Consuela)

Murphy’s Vintage

Texas Natives Angela and Brad Murphy are Warrenton vintage dealers who recently made Smithville their homebase. Angela Murphy is on the board of the Smithville Area Chamber of Commerce, and Brad Murphy is a local volunteer firefighter.

Murphy’s is located a block off Main in a renovated 1930s commercial building. Inside you’ll find an eclectic mix of furniture and accessories, plus furniture restoration tools and paint supplies. It specializes in refinished furniture with DIY refinishing classes coming soon. 207 Olive Steet, Smithville, (512) 575-3147,

Smithville General Store

Owner Beth Neely left behind a 25 year career in the entertainment industry in Los Angeles in 2018 to move back home to Texas and realize a long held small town dream. Some may recognize her storefront as Dot’s employment agency in the movie Hope Floats.

Stop in for gourmet coffee concoctions made with beans roasted locally by Mazama Coffee, and sip while you shop. You’ll find Smithville-branded merch, gifts, books, locally made candles, housewares, pet accessories, kitchen sundries and more. 108 NE 2nd Street, Smithville, (512) 237-1064,

Time to shop: Smithville General Store Home (Photo by Don Hoffman)

Smithville General Store Home

Just across the street from the Smithville General Store is Neely’s sister store, filled with a sophisticated collection of antiques and vintage furniture including architectural salvage, leather goods, vintage barware, luxury bamboo bedding and other unique finds. With many of them sourced in Round Top.

This is the building that served as the fictional storefront Snappy Snaps in Hope Floats. 200 Main Street, Smithville, (512) 237-1064, smithvillegeneralstorehome.

Filmed In Smithville

A quintessential Texas small town, Smithville has caught the eye of more than one location scout and has served as the backdrop for several movies, TV shows and music videos since the late 1990s. Here are just a few of the projects that were filmed locally in Smithville: 

The historic McCollum-Chapman-Trousdale House was featured in the 1998 drama Hope Floats. (Photo by Don Hoffman)


Artois the Goat (2009)

Beneath the Darkness (2011)

Bernie (2011)

Doonby (2013)

5 Time Champion (2011)

Hope Floats (1998)

Natural Selection (2011)

The Teller and the Truth (2015)

The Tree of Life (2011)


Love & Death (HBO Max, 2022)

Panic (Amazon Prime Video, 2021)