Bryans on 290

Courtesy Hill Country Light Photography, LLC

Courtesy Hill Country Light Photography, LLC

Bryans on 290
New American Restaurant
300 E. Main in Johnson City, Texas
(830) 868-2424
Price Range:  Moderate
Ambience:  Polished Casual / Texas Chic
Tuesday 5p -9p / Wed – Sat 11a – 9p
Reservations Welcomed

Bryan’s love of culinary art began at a very young age while cooking over the open camp fire. His first job was in an Italian restaurant in San Antonio. He couldn’t help noticing that the craft came naturally and decided to explore it further. Bryan relocated to Boston, Massachusetts to attend the prestigious Cambridge School of Culinary Arts.

Smoked Duck Breast with Japanese Mushrooms

Smoked Duck Breast with Japanese Mushrooms

Talk about an upward projectory straight to the top. While nurturing academia at culinary arts school, Bryan honed his practical skills working alongside a James Beard award winning chef at a trendy local restaurant and interning with Dr. Stanley Nicas, who had worked in Europe in an Escoffier kitchen.

After graduation Bryan found employment at the Boston’s East Coast Grill with another James Beard award winning chef. This New England hotspot featured seafood with ocean to plate freshness and BBQ; emphasizing flame grilling and big, bold flavor structures.

The Bar Awaits as You Enter

The Bar Awaits as You Enter

Texas has a way of calling its own back home.  Bryan heeded the call and returned to his mother state.  To diversify his culinary career,   he crossed over into the food industry’s corporate side and garnered business skills that would become a precursor for things to come.  As Consultant and Executive Director in several multi-service venues responsibilities included budgeting, forecasting, inventory and procurement systems, staff recruitment and training, architectural design and most importantly, making restaurants successful.

Chef / Propietor Bryan Gillenwater

Chef / Proprietor Bryan Gillenwater

At this point in Bryan’s life, as if it was a predetermined fate, the passion to create rekindled.  He dusted off his chef whites and teamed up with a pair of college day friends in the café at Compass Rose Cellars on the Highway 290 wine trail.  Then, all life’s experiences culminated as he happenstanced across a recently vacated restaurant just up the road and all his dreams came true.  With minor retrofitting and a fresh coat of paint, Byrans on 290 opened its doors in February 2016.

The menu, wine and craft beer lists offer an abundance of epicurean delights that you cannot find anywhere else in the Texas wine country.  The seasonally inspired menu stays true to Bryan’s love of grilling, fresh seafood and big, bold flavors.   A Chef’s Signature Menu is offered nightly as well as the house menu.  Small plates such as Asian Glazed Oak Smoked Pork Belly and Sautéed Mussels & Sweet n’ Spicy Grilled Sausage open the meal.

Grilled Rack of Lamb

Grilled Rack of Lamb

An array of seasonal salads, hearty soup and grilled, opulently adorned flatbreads keep you flying high.  Cast Iron Seared Salmon with Jicama Spinach Salad and Seared Lane Snapper accompanied by Cilantro Lime Rice, Tomatillo Sauce & Bacon Corn Relish were the seafood offerings on our last visit.  There are plenty of choices for meat lovers as well; Wood Grilled Beef Tenderloin, Bryans Half Chicken with Smoked Gouda Mac & Cheese and Asian Grilled Pork Loin.  Save room for the sweet ending as Bryan’s mom piles on her German flare with an assortment of innovative bread puddings, tarts, cheesecakes and more.

Bryan tastes every wine before offering to his customers and has a knack for finding great wines.  The list includes selections from Texas as well as California, France, Spain and other internationally acclaimed growing regions. An optional flight of wine accompanies the five course meal as part of the Tuesday night Supper Club.

Pork Belly on the Grill

Pork Belly Smoking on the Grill

With room to grow, Bryan has big plans for his restaurant.  This fall he will add on a Wine Bar and expand al fresco dining.  The restaurant is available for private banquets and catering and is a perfect stopover for lunch or dinner when touring the hill country wineries. Bryan networks with the local wine community; on my last visit his outdoor grill was loaded with smoking pork belly for a nearby winery event.  One of Chef’s signature dishes.

Banquet Table for Your Next Event

Banquet Table for Your Next Event. Photo Courtesy Hill Country Light Photography, LLC


Service at the restaurant is swift and efficient.  Bryan’s reputation for excellence and culinary genius is already traveling the grapevine and connoisseurs are visiting from San Antonio to Austin and Dallas. May I recommend that the next time you are in Johnson City or surrounding hill country, a stopover at Bryans on 290 will not disappoint.



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