NPR: Both The Food And The Music Are Made From Scratch At This Texas Joint

John Burnett/NPR

John Burnett/NPR

In the middle of the Texas Hill Country, where barbecue brisket is king, a dinner crowd is throwing back crabcakes, fried oysters, flounder and stuffed shrimp.

Onstage is the establishment’s owner, a 68-year-old Greek-American bluesman who’s been performing for half a century. He is Johnny Nicholas and this is his Hilltop Cafe.

“Well, I spent all my money on a real fine automobile,” he croons. “It’s a custom ride, got a pearl-handled steering wheel.”

The Hilltop opened in 1980 outside Fredericksburg, Texas., about 75 miles north of San Antonio. It used to be a gas station and beer joint. Nicholas’ wife, Brenda, was the genius in the kitchen. He handled the music.

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