Grins Restaurant

Grins Restaurant has been making customers grin for almost 30 years. The attentive waitstaff will make you feel completely at home. The sprawling rooms are ideal for any big celebration. The large tree-shaded terrace is ideal for spending time with friends and family. Grins is certainly a one-of-a-kind restaurant that serves delicious meals in a peaceful setting. Whether you want a World Famous Hamburger with Texas-size handmade onion rings, scrumptious catfish, steaks, or sizzlin’ fajitas, the menu has something for everyone. There are also huge salads and vegetarian platters available. Come in and taste the famed strawberry frozen margaritas, buckets of ice-cold beer, and pitchers of Sangria wine coolers. Come see what San Marcos residents and Texas State graduates have known for decades: time spent at Grins is certain to make you grin!


Grins Restaurant first opened its doors on Valentine’s Day 1975. For almost 40 years, we’ve been a neighborhood hangout and fixture in the San Marcos community. Grins is owned and run by two Texas State alumni, Paul Sutphen and Johnny Ferrell. Paul was the very first cook to work at Grins and shortly after graduating bought out one of the original proprietors. Johnny also worked in the kitchen throughout college and invested in Grins in 1978.

Mr. and Mrs. Lightfoot’s 1948 home was turned into a restaurant in 1972. Grins bought the restaurant in 1975 and started serving nachos, two types of burgers, and draft beer. The restaurant could seat up to 60 people and featured live music by Lyle Lovett, Robert Earl Keen, and the Beacon City Band. Grins Restaurant has now been enlarged three times: once in 1983, then in 1987 to incorporate a deck, and lastly in 1996 when the existing deck was enclosed and Grins’ wrap around deck was created. Grins can now seat up to 250 people and offers a diverse menu.

Our world-famous hamburgers and Texas-sized onion rings, as well as our award-winning salsa, are popular among San Marcos locals. Other menu favorites include Shiner Bock beer battered chicken fried steak, sizzling fajitas, and handmade dessert. To top it all off, we have one of the greatest Happy Hours in town.

Grins has seen numerous changes and upgrades throughout the years, but the basis of our restaurant has not. For more than 40 years, our devotion to make Grins a fun and exciting environment, along with exceptional customer service and award-winning food, has been the cornerstone to our success. Our objective is to maintain Grins’ history as a distinctive, local restaurant and to serve the communities of San Marcos and the students at Texas State for many years to come.

San Marcos

San Marcos is the county seat of Hays County, Texas, in the United States. Caldwell and Guadalupe Counties are also included in the city’s limits. San Marcos is located on Interstate 35, which links Austin with San Antonio. The population was 44,894 according to the 2010 census and 67,553 according to the 2020 census. The city is considered one of the oldest continuously inhabited communities in the Americas, having been built on the banks of the San Marcos River. San Marcos is home to both Texas State University and the Meadows Center for Water and the Environment.

According to Business Week’s fourth annual analysis, San Marcos is one of the “Best Places to Raise Your Kids.” In both 2013 and 2014, the US Census Bureau named it as the city with the greatest pace of growth in the country. It was named ninth on Business Insider’s list of the “10 Most Exciting Small Cities in America” in December 2013.

In 1689, a party of Spaniards commanded by Mexican native Alonso de Leon went out to explore Texas and establish colonies there by building missions and forts. De Leon’s company lay out the Camino Real (now known as Old San Antonio Road), which eventually gave way to the streets that are now Hunter Road, Hopkins Street, and Aquarena Springs Drive (the route later shifted four miles to the south; it is now followed by County Road 266, known locally as Old Bastrop Highway). De Leon’s group arrived on April 25—the feast day of St. Mark the Evangelist—and the river was called the San Marcos.

In January 1808, a small group of Spanish-Mexican families moved near the Old Bastrop Highway bridge of the river and called the community Villa of San Marcos de Neve. Floods and Indian incursions caused issues for the settlers, and the village was abandoned in 1812.

The first Anglo-American residents arrived at San Marcos Springs in November 1846. Hays County was founded by the Texas Legislature on March 1, 1848, with San Marcos as the county seat. In 1851, a town center was established approximately a mile southwest of the river’s headwaters. The town grew as a hub for ginning and milling local agricultural goods. General Edward Burleson, a hero of the Texas Revolution and subsequently vice president of the Republic of Texas, was the town’s most famous founder and early settler. Burleson built a dam on the upper portions of the river in 1849. The dam powered multiple mills, including one in present-day Sewell Park.

Cattle and cotton set the framework for San Marcos’ growth as a commerce and transportation hub in the decade following the arrival of the International-Great Northern Railroad on September 30, 1880.

Coronal Institute was founded in 1866 as an early private high school. Southwest Texas State Normal School (now known as Texas State University) was founded in 1899 as a teacher’s college to address the need for public school instructors in Texas.

Austin Dog Training

Next Point of Interest: Spring Lake Natural Area