It only takes about an hour to travel to Saint Jo from Grayson County, making the city with a population of less than 1,000 the perfect destination for a day trip. From the restaurants and wineries to the museums, shopping and gallery, the small town of Saint Jo offers entertainment packaged for those that enjoy small towns.
“Even before I began working here, I used to come to Saint Jo,” city secretary Melinda Robeson said. “I used to come to a coffee shop that used to be here. While I was here, I began exploring the town and saw all that was here.”
Robeson came to Saint Jo for coffee, but she stayed for the people.
“I have worked for other cities,” she said. “I loved the town even before I began working here. It’s close to other towns. The drive is not far for those that are coming in, so they should come see for themselves.”
Saint Jo is best known for its food and wineries, Robeson explains of the town, located near the Elm Fork of the Trinity River. There are three wineries in the area: Blue Ostrich Winery, Arche Winery and 4R Ranch Winery.
“This area is like the North Texas wine country,” Arche Winery Wine Maker Grayson Davies says of the Saint Jo area. “This is just a beautiful area with good soil and great topography. We have nice rolling hills, and a lot of our customers say that we are just an hour drive from a lot of places.”
Winery customers often travel from Wichita Falls, the DFW Metroplex and other North Texas cities.
“We are authentic,” Davies explains of why people enjoy his winery. “We have a beautiful tasting room, and we are 100 percent Texas. Sometimes we buy grapes from Lubbock, but 90 percent of the grapes for the wines that we make come from our fields.”
For those that like white wine, Arche is known for its estate chardonnay, and for those that like red wine, Davies recommends the winery’s Syrah, which is made from the southern Rhone grape.
Saint Jo also has activities for families. The Spring Fling, an annual market, allows area businesses to make display booths to promote area businesses, was held in April.
Panache, which opened in 2015, is a family-owned clothing boutique on Howell Street. Created from a renovated hardware store built in 1912, the store offers goods for the home, clothing, gifts and accessories. Panache is open from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Wednesday through Saturday.
“We also have small high-end stores, museums and an art gallery,” Robeson says of the town she describes as quaint. “One of the biggest attractions that gets people from all over this area is our annual 4th of July fireworks display. We have a 45-minute show. There are free watermelon and hot dogs given out.”
Ancient Oven in Saint Jo is a reservation-only venue that offers one seating per serving evening, and the serving time varies based upon the setting sun. Patrons are required to either leave their phone in the car or turn their phones off during the group meal.
The dining experience is $24 per person, and while the restaurant advertises as an adult venue, children young enough to sit on their parents laps eat free. Children that require their own seat may eat for the adult price.
Meals are prepared on a hard oak wood in a brick oven designed by a master brick mason. The four-course gourmet Italian meal is great for friends trips.
“If you have never been, you should go,” Roberson exclaims. “That is worth the trip on its own.”
Red River Barbecue, a restaurant housed in a former lumber yard, offers live music along with beer and wine. The Lazy Heart Grill has a menu of scratch-made American food like baked potatoes. Area residents rave about the grill’s burgers.
“Its a small town,” Robeson explains. “And, being such a small town, there are really a lot of things to do in one area. You can do everything in one day and not miss a thing.”