City Spotlight: Hico

By Chet Garner 10.5.23

Hico is a neat little town southwest of Fort Worth. Not only is it a scenic destination in northern Hill Country, but Hico has become an international destination for tourists who love outlaw legends and good ol’ conspiracy theories.

Hico: Home of Billy the Kid(?)

You’re probably familiar with Billy the Kid, the infamous 21-year-old gunslinger, thief, and fugitive. As the legend has it, the Kid’s crime spree ended at the hands of lawman Pat Garrett in 1881, who shot the Kid in Fort Sumner, New Mexico.

Well, that’s the popular legend, at least. The folks in Hico believe a very different story. According to them, when Garrett encountered Billy the Kid in Fort Sumner, he spared his life on the condition that he never return to the town. And so, Billy threw down his weapon and disappeared, took on the name “Brushy Bill” Roberts, and lived for several more decades right here in Hico, Texas. The people of Hico never found out who he really was until his later years, when he fessed up to a lawyer/investigator who had suspicions about Brushy Bill’s past. Right before the truth could come out, Bill died of a heart attack. According to legend, he was buried just outside of Hico in a town called Hamilton, and now folks from all over Texas, the U.S., and the world visit Hico to pay homage at the grave of Billy the Kid.

Whether you believe it or not, it’s a pretty compelling story. You can do your own research at the Billy the Kid Museum in Hico’s historic downtown. The museum has got all kinds of artifacts and memorabilia from the Old West. It’s a great exhibit that tells a great story about the legend and mystery around Billy the Kid.

Downtown Hico

While you’re downtown, there are a lot of unique antique stores, shops, and restaurants to explore in Hico, which is experiencing a renaissance of new businesses. Before you hit the town, swing by Hico Popcorn Works for a pre-shopping-spree snack. They’ve got dozens of different-flavored popcorns, everything from their signature caramel corn to flavors like sweet jalapeño to Vietnamese cinnamon toast. It’s outstanding stuff — if you don’t get a chance to try all the flavors on your daytrip, swing back and stock up before you head home.

A visit to Hico isn’t complete without eating at the Koffee Kup Family Restaurant. This classic Texas diner has been around for decades, and they make some of the best pie in the entire state. I’m talking meringues that are like a foot high. So, whatever you get for lunch (and they make incredible cheeseburgers and chicken fried steak), you have to follow it with pie. My favorite is one of their signature pies called the Doctor’s Office, which is a cream cheese custard topped with whipped cream, pecans, and coconut. It’s totally sweet.

The last great spot I’d recommend in Hico is Eis Sandwiches and Ice Cream. I kid you not: They make some of the best jalapeño pimento cheese you’ll ever eat in your life. They’ve got a whole sandwich dedicated to it, although you can add it to any of their amazing sandwiches. And, as the restaurant’s name implies, finishing your meal with a giant scoop of ice cream is obligatory. (Hold the cheese there, though.)

Climb High, Hico

Before heading home from Hico, get your adventure on at the Siloville Climbing Gym near the city park. A local family transformed an old, concrete grain silo into an enormous rock climbing gym — on the inside and out! You can climb indoors, but scaling its exterior gives a great view of Hico. And if you make it to the roof of the silo during one of their sunset climbs, you might just be able to spot Hico’s famous statue of Billy the Kid!

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