Utopia Texas got its name from an 1840s settlement striving for a utopian communal society. It sits about 150 miles west of San Antonio on the edge of the Hill Country, by the Sabinal River and within easy striking distance of Lost Maples State Natural Area. It’s home to only about 200 people, but has a lot to offer for a tiny township. Including a restaurant that many say is worth the trip all on its own.

If dining in a tree is on your bucket list, check out The Laurel Tree. The restaurant offers a quaint Provence inn-style dining room and, yes, a treehouse dining room. Both are decorated with French country antiques and eclectic décor. The Laurel Tree serves European cuisine combined with homey comfort food. Common adjectives in the guestbook include magical, charming and superb!

The treehouse dining room was built by Treehouse Master Pete Nelson of Animal Planet fame. It’s perched in the “palm” of a huge 450-year-old oak tree nicknamed “Gerard.” The treehouse provides a rare dining experience with exclusive service to its single table. Unlike your childhood treehouse, access is by ramp and a few steps and the house is climate-controlled year-round. You can enjoy a glass of wine on the Juliette deck overlooking the picturesque grounds before your dinner begins — although you’ll have to bring your own. Utopia is a dry township, so Laurel Tree guests are welcome to bring their own bottles to pair with the uniquely designed menu for the day.

Although the treehouse is exquisite, the main dining room is just as charming. If you go, plan to spend a couple of hours from start to finish as you enjoy classic European-style service set to your pace. People fly in from far and wide to celebrate their special occasions with Paris-trained Le Cordon Bleu chef and owner, Laurel Waters and her Laurel Tree team.

If you want to go, plan ahead. The Laurel Tree is reservation-only and it’s open just one day per week – Saturday. Treehouse bookings are taken in six month windows.

You can learn more about these and other Texas destinations in the travel issue of Texas Lifestyle magazine.

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