Lifestyle

Beyond the Lights: A Look at Another Marfa Mystery

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The Marfa Lights phenomenon attracts as many theories as the 1,800 people who live in the west Texas town. However, a mystery obscured by the lights awaits. The Marfa story is defined by the people who come and go and return again. What keeps them here, and why do they so often return?

This fall, I visited with entrepreneur and Chamber of Commerce Secretary Bobbie Lopez. Born during Marfa’s 100-year dedication in 1983, Bobbie was named the town’s “Centennial Baby,” growing up and graduating from high school just a mile away. She left for ten years and returned, married a resident from nearby Fort Davis, and raises her family in town. What is so alluring about Marfa? She says, “It draws you in—we have some new history being made, and we’ve got traditional (ranching) history here, and Marfa’s popularity really took off.”

Beyond the Lights: A Look at Another Marfa Mystery

Photo: John Spaulding

Bobbie provides me west Texas directions: “Go all the way to the stoplight, turn right, travel past the Dairy Queen, and it’s on your left.” This brings me to one of the top-rated barbecue restaurants in the state, Convenience West. Housed, you guessed it, in an old convenience store. Part owner and one-time upscale chef Mark Scott says, “I’ve prepared a lot of different kinds of food, but I feel most connected to this (BBQ)—You’ve got to take your time and you can’t really hide much—it’s honest, hard and fun work.” But is it good? The answer is in the dozens of customers who suddenly appear just before opening, confirming the truth of this new Marfa food sensation’s top ratings.

Beyond the Lights: A Look at Another Marfa Mystery
Photo: John Spaulding

Mark’s wife, Kaki, works in the kitchen and greets people at the front register. They both spend an entire day before their usual Friday opening, readying the meat on the two old smokers out back. “We started doing dinosaur-sized beef ribs on Saturday,” Mark says. “So that’s kind of fun to put that on people’s trays and watch them realize what they’ve gotten themselves into.” As they adjust their menus, they follow the availability of produce for their side dishes by the seasons of the year.

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