For many Dallasites, driving west of Fort Worth is going off the edge of the map. Unless you’re stopping at Possum Kingdom Lake or Mineral Wells State Park for a day of swimming or hiking, it’s all ranches and long drives on highways in West Texas. But the little town of Mineral Wells, about an hour from Fort Worth, is working hard to become a destination again.
It is an excellent visit during the haunting Halloween season. There’s Hill House, where one can book a night of ghost hunting. And there’s the abandoned Baker Hotel and Spa, a 14-floor beauty that opened in 1929, was last used in the ’70s, and now casts a literal shadow over the town. It’s under construction and will hopefully be reopened in 2026. And then there’s the old Nazareth Hospital, which houses a former crematorium and a bomb shelter — and it’s been the site of some terrifying haunted houses in previous years.
While you can go there to scare yourself silly, it’s also easy to spend a day Downtown in the cuteness of pumpkins and Halloween decor galore for a wholesome, family-friendly time and take in the renovations transforming the city. And spending a walkable day eating and drinking in Mineral Wells has gotten very easy.
In search of breakfast in a sleepy town
This is not a town of early birds; the fancier coffee spots open at 9 a.m. or later. For early risers, head to the Happy Days Diner, which starts serving breakfast at 7 a.m. It’s loaded with 1950s nostalgia, and everything, down to the silverware, is vintage. The coffee option is strictly black from the pot, but it comes in a giant mug that will kickstart the day. The Twisted Biscuit is also a worthy beginning of any day, with country biscuits layered with cream gravy, hash browns, and eggs made to order.
Coffee, soda, Crazy Water, or something harder
After breakfast is a good time to stroll around Downtown Mineral Wells and poke into the various shops — and look at the construction around the Baker. When it’s time for some morning refreshments, head to the Crazy Water Hotel. It was built in 1912 and has recently been converted back to a hotel, and on the lobby level are two great options. First is the Crazy Water Coffee and Water Bar, surrounded by locally owned shops. Crazy Water is the local mineral water that the town’s historic wellness reputation was staked on, and this spot sells it, along with lattes, teas, espressos, and all manner of coffee — some of which are made with Crazy Water.
Elsewhere on the lobby level is Rickhouse Brewing, with a selection of beers brewed on-site, from IPAs to stouts. It also serves cocktails, wines, and a selection of sodas brewed in Dublin, Texas — which many know as the first plant to bottle Dr. Pepper.
A little drive or walk to lunch
For an inexpensive lunch in an iconic location, it’s hard to beat Los Cuñados, a taco truck that’s a short drive or a long walk away from Downtown. It sits next to the city’s sprawling cemetery, at the bottom of a hill that hosts the city’s giant “Welcome” sign that, when installed in 1922, was said to be the largest non-commercial electric sign in the country. Los Cuñados is cash-only and has a few outdoor picnic tables to eat tacos. The quesabirria is excellent, and locals offered this tip: If you ask for a side of consomme with any order, the staff will give it to you for free. Tacos are about $3 each, and two people can eat for $20 or less.
If the weather isn’t cooperating or you’re just more of an indoor eater, try Natty Flats Smokehouse, a light walk away from Downtown or an extremely short drive. Locals recommended trying the Cowboy Tacos — chopped brisket topped with baked potato salad wrapped in a flour tortilla, served with sides of shredded cheddar cheese and picante sauce. It is $7 for two heaping tacos, roughly the price of all its lunch plates and sandwiches.
Wine down afternoon
After saving all that money on lunch, blow some in the afternoon at the Bankhead Texas Wine Bar. Its menu offers by-the-glass and bottle options of Texas wines from all over the state in various styles, alongside customizable charcuterie boards. It’s got a rustic interior with displays on the walls depicting the history of the area and a massive outdoor patio — both are great for lounging. You’ll likely catch some live music if you hang around until 7 p.m.
Lingering over dinner and cocktails
Cross the street to check out the Market at 76067 (the local zip code), where dozens of vendors sell goods in two stores. And take a break for dinner at Coffee and Cocktails 76067. This gastropub is the most sophisticated food in the city at present, offering salads, soups, incredible sandwiches and paninis, and pizzas. It also has a seasonal cocktail menu and a tempting list of options at the coffee bar. And there are nightly events, from trivia to live music.
Opening at the end of October is Second Bar + Kitchen in the Crazy Water Hotel, which will kick the town’s food options up a notch. The Austin-based restaurant is helmed by James Beard Award winner David Bull, who moved to Mineral Wells to head up the project and a coming restaurant in the Baker.