Thirteen miles southwest of Abilene at the intersection of Farm roads 89 and 1235 is the tiny community of Buffalo Gap, Texas population 463. In 1880 Buffalo Gap was a booming town of 1,200 people with a drugstore, blacksmith shop, a big hotel, a carriage, three or four grocery stores and what no Texas town could be without—a saloon.
Buffalo Gap was known for the American Bison, better known as Buffalo, that traveled through the area on the way to the high plains. Buffalo hunting was a way of life in the 1800’s and the bone and buffalo business boomed until the southern heard was eliminated in 1878. In 1883 the Texas and Pacific Railway established headquarters in Abilene and the town of Buffalo Gap declined.
The town lives on, much like the buffalo, and the new homes lining Bell Plains Road is a clear sign this town, 20 minutes from Abilene, is far from being a ghost town. From James Beard Award-winning steaks to the Buffalo Gap Historic Village, this town is worth the stop if you are in West Texas.
Things to do in Buffalo Gap, Texas
Perini Ranch Steakhouse
The Perini Ranch Steakhouse, founded in 1983 by Tom Perini, has become a much-loved destination for foodies and diners from all over the country. Perini Ranch Steakhouse was one of five winners of the “America’s Classics Award,” in 2014 given by the James Beard Foundation. The America’s Classics Award is, “given to restaurants that have timeless appeal and are beloved for quality food that reflects the character of their community.”
When we say this food is fantastic, we are not lying. It’s truly a hoedown of pleasure in your mouth. All the meat at the steakhouse is cooked on mesquite coals or a live fire. Mesquite is abundant in the area, and the simple cooking is a reflection of Tom Perini’s past when he would chuck wagon cook for ranchers in the area. After years of ups and downs, the restaurant is now a booming success with accolades from Texas Monthly to George Bush and Vladimir Putin who had Tom Perini cater at the Crawford ranch.
As a bonus when you visit Perini Ranch Steakhouse you get to see Barbadillo, the world’s largest Armadillo!! Look how small I am compared to the size of Barbadillo!
Buffalo Gap Historic Village
Nestled off the beat and path is a little village that offers visitors and way to step back in time. With over 20 historic frontier buildings filled with collections of Indian artifacts, frontier firearms and other essentials for life in Texas from the 1180s to the 1920s.
Buffalo Gap Historic Village is home to the original Taylor County Courthouse and jail that dates back to 1879. The sandstone blocks were concave in the center and mortared together with cannonballs to keep prisoners from chiseling their way out. As well as early 20th-century buildings, including a doctor’s office and railroad depot.
Kids and adults will have fun taking pictures in the old bank where you can pretend to be a teller. Take a seat at the school house or play on the old Witch’s Hat playground equipment.
Hours: June, July, August: Tues. – Sat., 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Sun., Noon to 5 p.m.
Winter Hours: Tues. – Sat., 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Sun., Noon to 5 p.m.
Price/Fee: $7-Adults; $6-Ages 65+ and military $4-Grades K-12 & college students with ID; Free-Ages 5 and younger. Coupons found here!
Buffalo Gap Wine & Food Summit
The Buffalo Gap Wine & Food Summit founded in 2005 by the Perini’s, the late Fess Parker of Fess Parker Winery & Vineyard and Dr. Richard Becker of Becker Vineyards. The non-profit organization founded the summit to cultivate the appreciation of fine wine and food through education and discussion. Like so many things the Perini’s have helped start, the summit is a resounding success. World renown chefs such as French Chef Jacques Pépin, Francis Mallman of Argentina, and Jon Bonnell of Fort Worth, among others have attended in past years.
Buffalo Gap Flea Market
Located at the Old Settler’s Reunion Grounds on the third Saturday of every month. The Buffalo Gap Flea Market is a wonderful place to find real gems and various items.
Location: Old Settlers Reunion Grounds – 817 Main St Buffalo Gap, TX 79508
Date: Year-round: 3rd Sat. of each month
I love visiting tiny Texas towns like Buffalo Gap. The heritage, the sweet people and the unique things you can do are bountiful. We hope you and yours have a rip roaring time and shoot out the lights in Buffalo Gap!