Keep Austin Tasty

Foodstalking runs in my family. I am probably the most obsessive, with Dad at a close second- although that may just be because I have much more time on my hands to obsess. That’s why I always jump at the chance to foodstalk with said family. Reasons being A) they aren’t embarassed by my weird habit of taking pictures of my food, B) We usually have similar tastes, C) There are some restaurants that only the Goldens will visit, brave souls we are.  So when I found out my sister was going to come visit me in Texas, I figured it was a good time to drag her to along for the ride.

We begin this long weekend in Austin, which just so happens to be my favorite city in the country. I got in Friday night just in time to meet friends for dinner at Polvo’s, which is a Mexican dive in South Austin. Tear… this type of place makes me long for the Mexican joints in Birmingham that made me like Mexican food (El Poblano and Sol Azteca were my most frequented). Too many of the Mexican/Tex-Mex restaurants in Houston are overpriced and too much of an ordeal for it to be plausible to go on a regular basis. Polvo’s was definitely more like what I am used to as far as Mexican food goes- decent, cheap margaritas, and food that sticks with you for a while. I had some kind of beef fajitas (can’t seem to find the exact name on the menu), and they hit the spot.

The next day’s meals started with brunch/lunch at Z’Tejas. Part of this place’s main appeal is the location and atmosphere: right on busy 6th Street (but far enough out that it’s not considered a ‘touristy’ spot- a Golden no-no), and a massive patio that is perfect for spring in Central Texas. They have excellent brunch cocktails and mojitos- of which I didn’t partake in this time. I had the Huevos Rancheros, a standard for me. I will enjoy anything with avocado in it (more on that later…), and the eggs were perfectly cooked.

4:00pm: time for a snack. Sister and I just so happened to run into this fabulous place that is basically my ultimate food fantasy on wheels. That’s right, an airstream trailer that sells cupcakes. Located in the quirky South Congress area, they have a short list of flavors (no daily rotation here like some of the cupcake purveyors in Houston) and a couple of tables with napkin holders on top. There just so happened to be a Gregg Allman look-a-like playing acoustic around the seating area on the day we were there- not sure if that’s a regular occurence or just a random Austin musician trying to catch his big break. I had the Red Velvet, which in my experience is a pretty good barometer for cupcake quality. The cake was moist and the frosting had the most interesting texture- whipped, not hard like a lot of bakery cupcakes, and on the thin side- I kind of liked it. The frosting was almost too cream cheese-y for me (not one of my favorite ingredients), but I did appreciate that it wasn’t sickeningly sweet like many non-homemade frostings.

Hey, Cupcake!

Hey, Cupcake!

Sweet Southern goodness

Sweet Southern goodness

Saturday dinner was at Curra’s, a place that is known for its avocado margaritas and no-frills Tex-Mex food. Our entire table ordered the avocado margaritas- I may have been the only one that actually enjoyed it. I think the reason is…

Ugh, I hate to reveal this dirty secret to the World Wide Web…

I don’t really like normal margaritas. I know, it’s strange. I don’t normally like to be reminded that tequila exists, and too many margaritas don’t do a good enough job of masking it/use the cheap stuff, which reminds me that it exists the next morning. I like the addition of avocado, because it’s just one more ingredient to mask the fact that I am drinking tequila. The consistency resembles a smoothie, so one warning would be to drink it quickly before it gets warm. Warm smoothies are not good. To eat, I had the Enchiladas Curras- cheesy, meaty, yummy goodness that you expect from Tex-Mex food.

Avocado marg

Avocado marg

Mmm... cheese...

Mmm... cheese...

Our final stop in Central Texas is located on the famed BBQ Trail. I had previously made a stop at the City Market in Luling on another trip to Austin, a place that I credit with making me realize that I may actually enjoy brisket. I wanted to test another Top 5 BBQ spot to see if it was a fluke, so sister and I headed to Smitty’s Market in Lockhart. If you are easily intimidated by new dining experiences, Smitty’s is not for you. First you must enter the actual pit area and purchase your meats. Slap some brisket and ribs on butcher paper, give the man named Virgil your cash (ONLY), and head into the dining room. From there, you’ll purchase your sides and drinks. Don’t waste your time on sides. The beans were of the tasteless pinto variety. Ask for sauce at the “sides check-out,” or else you’ll be sadly sitting  at your table, staring at a bottle of hot sauce like sister and I did for a few minutes before we wised up. Between the two of us, we had a 1/2 lb of brisket and 1/2 lb of ribs. I think Dreamland owns Smitty’s in the ribs department- while the ribs were tasty, they were a little dry. The brisket, however, was exactly what this carne lover has learned to like about Texas BBQ- you taste the MEAT. Yes, you taste the smoke- but there’s nothing artificial about it as some Southeastern ‘que can seem. I did, however, like the City Market’s brisket a little more I believe. Could have been an off day for Smitty’s, but I thought the meat at City Market was slightly more moist than Smitty’s.

Smitty's Market exterior

Smitty's Market exterior

Order carne here

Order carne here

Before

Before

After

After

That’ll do it for the Austin portion of sister’s trip. Stay tuned for new adventures in Houston…

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3 responses to “Keep Austin Tasty

  1. “order carne here.” what is it about intimidating, “i don’t know what to do first” dining experiences? it reminds me of going to the post office and feeling like a jackass cause i don’t know which box to get, whether to send it express or superexpress, how to fill out which forms, etc. but it looks like the experience was worth it. that carne and plain white bread (bunny bread?) looks awesome.

    great entry. i love it!

  2. ongoldenblog

    This entry made me really really really hungry. I wish I hadn’t eaten too much for brunch on Saturday so I could have had a cuppycake. And I want those ribs and that brisket. Virgil.

  3. The Goldens sure have come a long way since the Kozy Korner (or was it Kozy Kitchen?). I look forward to giving TX bbq another try on our next trip out to Houston.

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