An Old Road Trip To Texas

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mr chips
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An Old Road Trip To Texas - Fri, 04/2/10 8:32 AM
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I've hesitated to post about this trip for a while, mostly because i always meant to post photos and the trip is now almost 1.5 years in the past. I still think that my observations have some merit( and Jane Stern told me I should post it), I've decided to write about a trip I took to the Austin area in September of 2008. Much of the trip was posted on a website that is now defunct and what strikes me in retrospect is how much change can occur in a relatively short period of time.

mr chips
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Re:An Old Road Trip To Texas - Fri, 04/2/10 9:14 AM
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From August 30 to September 5, 2008, I spent a week in the San Antonio and Austin areas of Texas. I took in the sights and ate as much barbecue, pie and roadfood as I could get down. I had a marvelous time.

  (Day One) Took off from Portland at the ungodly hour of 5:45 a.m. and had my usual pre-flight meal at Gustav's German restaurant inside the gates. Gustav's features sausages and fondues and my day got off to good start with a combo of bratwurst and eggs. Gustav's is one of the better airport places to eat that I have run across in my travels and I am glad it is  located in my home airport.
     I arrived in San Antonio in mid-afternoon, rented my car and got to my motel in north San Antonio. I noticed a lot of Louisiana license plates in the parking lot and I talked to a lot of people who had fled New Orleans at the first hint that Hurricane Gustav might hit New Orleans. This was also true of the first place i stayed near Austin. Gustav was a lingering presence  during my trip.
  My first stop was the roadfood beacon Olmos Pharmacy in the gentrifying Alamo Heights section of San Antonio. The place had recently been taken over by Betty Garza who had worked in the place for 40 years. The pharmacy had been replaced by a wine bar but the soda fountain was intact. I had a Stern recommended lemonade(fresh squeezed) with sherbert(one of the best drinks I ever had) and an an excellent grilled cheese. Had a long chat with Mrs. Garza's daughter in law. I was deeply saddened when this place closed down last year.
<message edited by mr chips on Wed, 05/26/10 10:27 PM>

Nancypalooza
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Re:An Old Road Trip To Texas - Fri, 04/2/10 10:28 AM
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Oh, now I want a lemonade and sherbet drink too.  :)

mr chips
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Re:An Old Road Trip To Texas - Sat, 04/3/10 12:09 AM
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Day one(con) I finished day one with a drive to west San Antonio to Nelson Wolff Stadium to see a Double A  Texas league baseball game between the San Antonio Missions and  Corpus Christie Hooks. A kind gentleman at the ticket window told me where to sit to get maximum breeze(it was damned hot and humid) and I enjoyed the game immensely.  A few things of note. There was a veritable sea of uniforms in the stands as it was some sort of armed forces night and San Antonio is definitely a military town. I found no food stand in the park that sold tacos(sic) and there was no picadillo sauce for my hot dog(sic). I did not think this possible in San Antonio.
     There were three mascots at the game; Henry the puffy taco(the only taco I found alnight), Bow Wow, the mascot for the Hooks, Ballapeno( a baseball shaped jalpeno), for the Missions. Bally made me part of one of his routines, grabbing me from behind when I was taking pictures of the dog and insisting I take his picture instead(which of course I did) to much laughter.
     The game itself was pretty good. San Antonio fell behind 7-2 but hit 6 home runs to eventually win the game 9-7. Two of the homers were hit by Kyle Blanks who moved up to the Triple A  Portland Beavers in 2009 and is projected to be the starting left fielder for the San Diego Padres in 2010. I had a blast talking to fans who were far more concerned with San Antonio Spurs star Manu Genobli's then impending knee surgery than the game. Altogether a great first day.
<message edited by mr chips on Wed, 05/26/10 10:28 PM>

mr chips
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Re:An Old Road Trip To Texas - Sat, 04/3/10 10:52 PM
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Day 2 began with a short drive from San Antonio to the Blanco Bowling Club and Cafe in Blanco, Texas. Michael Stern's review says any serious lemon meringue pie lover must try the pie here and he was right. Fluffy, sweet, tangy, delicious. i got part of the first pie of the day. I was saving room for a chicken fried steak breakfast in Johnson City down the road so I regretfully passed up breakfast but I'm hoping for a return some day.
    Next stop was Johnson City for a stop at the Hill Country Cupboard. Michael Stern said on the Nashville Roadfood bus tour that the chicken fired steak here was the best he ever had so I was filled with anticipation. It was very good, served with cream gravy, grits and eggs, lightly seasoned with pepper. A little bland until I seasoned it with a drop or two of tabasco. Very good if you are in the area but I would not go too far out of my way to visit the Hill Country Cupboard.
Next stop was the LBJ Ranch in Stonewall, 8 miles from Johnson City. By blind luck, I visited 3 days after LBJ's office in the ranch house had opened to the public, the first part of the interior house that could be visited. The office was pure Lyndon, phones all over the place,cattle awards, a fancy saddle that had been a gift from the President of Mexico. It was not hard to imagine the whirlwind in the place, trying to control the whole world. 
  My visit was at an unusual time. The tour buses were not running so visitors could drive across the ranch themselves. I stopped at the reconstructed LBJ birthplace, the Johnson family cemetery, the still active cattle show barn and of course the ranchhouse. There was also a collection of the convertibles and fancy cars that LBJ drove around the ranch.
   The NPS rangers at the visitor center who told me my next food stop ought to be the Bluebonnet Cafe in Marble Falls. one even jokingly offered to join me. Unfortunately the cafe was closing when i called so I made alternate plans to go to Cooper's Pit Barbecue in Mason, Texas.
    On the way to Fredericksburg I saw a sign for Luckenbach road. As a devoted fan of Waylon Jennings and Willie Nelson, I knew where I was. I made the turn and in 8 miles I was in Luchenbach,a collection of run down buildings that was a tourist happening. There must have been 300 motorcycles in the parking lots, a music group was jamming, bikers of all types were chatting and showing off gear. I ordered a Lone Star, bought Trudy a souvenir,walked around and enjoyed the vibe.
<message edited by mr chips on Sun, 05/2/10 8:04 PM>

mr chips
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Re:An Old Road Trip To Texas - Sun, 04/4/10 12:26 AM
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(Day 2(Con) My next stop was Cooper's Pit bar-b Q in Mason, Texas. This was my first experience with open-pit barbecue. Several pits with brisket, sausage, chicken and turkey were visible; you chose your cut. it was wrapped in butcher , you paid, went to a nondescript room and ate your bounty. I had a rich cut of brisket with lots of fat, it was tasty and chewy.My first taste of brisket was a winner.
     Next stop was Cooper's Old Pit Bar B Q in Llano, Texas. apparently the two places were connected at one time but they are independent of each other now. Another open pit where you make your choice and the meat is taken inside to be sliced Your order is priced by the pound, sliced and served on butcher paper. Tables are communal and i had nice conversations with folks from San Antonio and Austin.
      The Mason place was less elegant but the meat was better. The Llano place was more crowded and the facilities a bit nicer but both were good experiences. Drove the rest of the way to Austin, the most spectacular sight an almost Wagnerian courthouse on a bluff in Gainesville.

buffetbuster
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Re:An Old Road Trip To Texas - Fri, 04/9/10 11:14 AM
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mr chips-
Please continue!  I am very much enjoying reading about this.  I know how disappointed you were in being able to join the rest of us on the bus tour, but it sure sounds like you had a great time when you made your trip later.

minilops
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Re:An Old Road Trip To Texas - Fri, 04/9/10 1:12 PM
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Hi Mr Chips!
  There is a restaurant in San Antonio (one of my husband's favorites) called Henry's Puffy Tacos.  I bet the mascot is named in honor of their puffy tacos, which, by the way, are good.
  I'm wondering if the "Wagnerian" courthouse you spoke of is actually in Gatesville, not Gainesville.  I have driven through Gatesville many times and there is a very beautiful courthouse there.  By the way Gainesville is up around Dallas.
  I am enjoying reading about your visit to Texas.  I live here and have been to all the places you have mentioned so far.
Allison

mr chips
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Re:An Old Road Trip To Texas - Sat, 04/10/10 4:27 PM
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Henry was named after the restaurant and as i joked, he was the only taco I could find at the ballpark.I may have gotten Gatesville and Gainsville confused but the courthouse i saw was spectacular. Thanks for kind words and the correction.
<message edited by mr chips on Sat, 04/10/10 4:30 PM>

mr chips
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Re:An Old Road Trip To Texas - Sat, 04/10/10 4:29 PM
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buffetbuster


mr chips-
Please continue!  I am very much enjoying reading about this.  I know how disappointed you were in being able to join the rest of us on the bus tour, but it sure sounds like you had a great time when you made your trip later.

Thanks, Cliff. This trip ended up with visits to 26 roadfood restaurants and a lot of other fun places.

<message edited by mr chips on Sun, 05/2/10 8:06 PM>

mr chips
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Re:An Old Road Trip To Texas - Sat, 04/10/10 5:28 PM
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 Day 3 was Labor Day and the day i was fortunate enough to meet roadfood legend Bushie. He did not shoot me on site as the northwest liberal that i am. We drove around Austin for the morning where he showed me the sights of the city and gave me lots of info about where to stop, visit and eat.
     First stop was Cisco's in downtown Austin. This is a Tex-Mex place that was the real caucus room for the Texas legislature for many years and a major stopping place for other local celebrities(former UT football coach Daryl Royal is a regular as is Willie Nelson). The celebrity photo wall featred every Texas governor in my memory as well as Walter Cronkite and Dan Rather among others. My migas(recommended by the Sterns in their latest book) were perfect and as a political junkie, I loved looking around the place and thinking of its history.
   Bushie showed me Barton Springs with its joggers and sunbathing UT coeds. He also recommended the country music nightspot where I had seen Samantha Brown on her then new Travel Channel Series on weekend getaways. We stopped at a juice bar near Barton Springs Park for a grapefruit smoothie infused with enough stuff to be really healthy as well as tasty. Saw the original Threadgills where Ms. Joplin waitressed and sang, the first Whole Foods store, the local farmer's markets where Bushie saw Jim Hightower, a Texas populist-liberal who is a favorite of man, drove past the UT campus and the club scene on the 6th. Bushie is one of the most engaging conversationalists I have spent time with; funny, mildly profane and deeply proud of Austin and surrounding environs.
   We spent much time looking for an Amy's that was actually open. Amy's is a local ice cream chain that is a favorite of The Travelin Man's. Apparently they make some flavors with microbrews and Mexican liqueurs but I settled for an exquisite mexican vanilla There was a takeout Amy's across from my  motel where i indulged a couple times.
      Bushie and I parted around noon and i finally glanced at my paper. The Round Rock Express game I planned to attend started at noon so I drove the 25 miles to Round Rock as quickly as i could and I arrived at Dell Diamond around 1 p.m. The game was in the 7th inning(sic). i-It was the last game of the year and both teams played as if they were double parked. There were 9 double plays, very few walks and the entire 9 innings took only one hour and 35 minutes to play.
     I wandered around the park for the last 3 innings. There was a swimming pool beyond the right-field fence, a rock-climbing in center, a section filled with rocking chairs in the left-field bleachers and lots of refreshment stands. The game continued its quick pace and ended with a 1-0 Round Rock loss. After the game there was an opportunity for anyone who wised to to run  around the bases. i joined the throng and practiced my home run trot around the bases.
      I next drove the 10 miles to Georgetown, Texas for a stop at the Roadfood reviewed Monument cafe. The Monument Cafe was built in 1995 in the style of 1930's Art Deco and has a Texas menu. albeit one that is cooked and presented with a commitment to local, fresh ingredients of the highest quality. My asparagus spears were grilled and went down smoothly, the creamed spinach fresh and hearty, the mashed potatoes melted in my mouth, and there was fresh squeezed lemonade that had just the right mix of tart and sweet. The star of the meal was the chicken fried steak, made from kobe beef and simply the best I've ever eaten. Great spice, fresh cream gravy and tasty beef blended together in a sensual delight.
     Dessert was a German chocolate pie with a pecan crust that i saved for later. The owner came by, saw my Roadfood book, and lit up, telling me that Michael Stern had been very good to him over the years and beamed when i complimented his food. I can't speak highly enough of the Monument Cafe and hope that anyone who reads this will stop  there when in the Austin area. Bushie bought some Round Rock donuts to our morning meeting. I liked them but thought that both Voodoo Donuts and Annie's Donuts in Portland are better( though that is probably my local prejudice showing).
  The evening was spent at the Congress Street Bridge where I saw the famous bats fly out though it was dark and I was unable to get a photo. After the bats, I walked over to the southern branch of Threadgill's. A decent band was playing and since i had already eaten a chicken-fried steak that day, I went for the four veggie plate. I had San Antonio squash, black eyed pea caviar, mashed potatoes, and spinach. The squash was served with a lot of cheese(which I later discovered was velveeta!)and I liked it a lot. The black-eyed pea caviar was cold black-eyed peas with coleslaw. Great meal and a perfect end to an exciting day.
<message edited by mr chips on Sun, 07/11/10 5:58 PM>

mr chips
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Re:An Old Road Trip To Texas - Sat, 04/24/10 11:23 AM
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Day 4(September 2,2008)
       Day 4 was a marathon roadfood eating day, devoted to eating and drinking at places recommended by jane and michael. The day started with a stop at "The Big Kolache." I had  a kolache stuffed with an Elgin hot gut sausage as well as a lemon kolache pastry. The place had been purchased by a south asian family who had renamed it Eva B's bakery(it is now listed under that name on the website). The family was still providing the same kolache menu in the a.m. at that time. It was tasty stuff and my first exposure to that type of pastry.
    Stop 2 was the Pacha Coffeehouse on Burnett a little north of the University. This was a nice expresso place decorated with art from native peoples of South America as decor. I had an iced non-fat latte that could have passed muster in my hometown of Portland or Seattle and Vancouver. The vibe was independent coffeehouse and it is a good stop if you are craving artistic cafe culture.
   Stop 3 was the town of Bastrop about 30 miles from Aiustin. I found a norteno music station which made the drive fun(ciento dos punto siete, puro noteno). Texas small towns have an interesting dichotomy. There is often an old downtown with renovated buidings, awnings, pick-ups parked at odd angles and often quirky food. There is also a freeway by pass culture with newer less attractive buildings which will occasionally surprise by having great food. This was the essence of my Bastrop experience.
  Lock Drug is an old-fashioned pharmacy. They proudly serve Blue bell ice cream and the counter person was eager to give me free samples of a couple of newer flavors which were very good. The fountain offers what they call a frosted coke, basically a milk shake made with coke syrup instead of milk and served in a large silver beaker. Sweet, a reminder of childhood decadence. The store itself features pharmaceutical items on wooden shelves that give you a sense of having gone back 50-60 years. This is a highly recommended stop for roadfooders with a sweet tooth. The place is reviewed on this website.
    Cartwright's Barbecue opened fairly early so I stopped there. Had a good 15 minute conversation with a local who did woodworking and fences. I had a sausage at Cartwright's that was okay and probably suffered in comparison to the one I had later in Elgin.

<message edited by mr chips on Tue, 10/18/11 11:50 PM>

Sundancer7
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Re:An Old Road Trip To Texas - Sat, 04/24/10 3:30 PM
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Great write Mr. Chips.  I have been to Austin several times and most of the time, I met with Bushie.  You are great as he is super to travel with.
 
I visited several of the places you did, saw the bats on the Congress bridge, stopped in Llano two times.
 
The best BBQ I had on the several trips was at Lockhart with Bushie, Al and several others.  Smitty's had the best sausage and Kreuz had the best brisket.
 
Paul E. Smith
Knoxville, TN

mr chips
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Re:An Old Road Trip To Texas - Sun, 04/25/10 12:08 PM
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Day 4(Con)
               Bastrop is a short drive from the hallowed eating town of Elgin,Texas. First stop was the barbecue temple of Southside Market on the outskirts of Elgin. An Elgin hot gut sausage was the only possible order. A small but potent thing Moisture seeped through the butcher paper as it was given to me over the counter. Carry the sausage to my seat, a little even leaked on my tray. The crackers sopped up the juice as it squirted out, the skin had great snap and the taste was the hearty pleasure of pure carnivore delight.
    There was a huge crowd( a bus of soldiers arrived as I did) and there were a lot of people doing their household meat shopping This place definitely lived up to what I've read here. That sausage was damn good.
    Next stop was the Elgin City Cafe in downtown Elgin. Here I ate veggies; asparagus, mashed potatoes, black eyed peas, and spinach. The four veggie plate is a staple in Texas and these flavorful veggies were a healthy complement to the carnivorish and sweet food ihad been consuming all day. The cafe is two rooms, located in a former dry goods-variety store that also once served as a barber shop High ceilings make it a great place.
    A half hour drive brought me to another barbecue shrine, Louis Mueller's in Taylor, Texas. Gray, smoky, hot, the ambience was pure texas roadhouse. The brisket was melt in your mouth tender, moist withm a generous amount of fat, served by men with obvous pride who were eager to know what i thought of Texas barbecue, These pit guys are artists who take great pride in the quality of meat they serve and I had the great fortune to talk with many who were loquacious and interesting. I had a brief conversation with the owner, memorable mostly because Mr. Mueller died 3 days later.
     Last stop of the afternoon was the Hutto cafe in Hutto. There is a sign with a huge cow on it outside the cafe and it is located next to a shop with the largest collection of ceramic hippos I have ever seen. Apparently in the early 1900's a circus hippo escaped from a train near Hutto and the town has been known as the hippo city ever since(the alliterative appeal of the town adds to the joke). I sampled the wonderful Peppermint Patty pie and hope to go back some day to sample some of the other dishes.
<message edited by mr chips on Tue, 10/18/11 11:53 PM>

Nancypalooza
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Re:An Old Road Trip To Texas - Sun, 04/25/10 3:54 PM
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Oh, a frosted coke sounds fabulous!  I'm loving your report chipsie.

DirtDude
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Re:An Old Road Trip To Texas - Tue, 04/27/10 9:24 AM
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mr chips


    On the way to Fredericksburg I saw a sign for Luckenbach road. AS a devoted fan of Waylon Jennings and Willie Nelson, I knew where I was. I made the turn and in 8 miles I was in Luchenbach,a collection of run down buildings that was a tourist happening. There must have been 300 motorcycles in the parking lots, a music group was jamming, bikers of all types were chatting and showing off gear. I ordered a Lone Star, bought Trudy a souvenir,walked around and enjoyed the vibe.


Thats awesome!!!

mr chips
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Re:An Old Road Trip To Texas - Wed, 04/28/10 9:48 AM
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Day 4(part 3)
        After the marvelous pie In Hutto, I made my way back to Austin. I took the new improved tollway and had it almost to myself( a vivid contrast to the very crowded I-35 corridor from Round Rock to Austin. Rested and then went out to dinner to Rosie's Tamales in Bee Cave, Texas, reviewed on this site and located in an Austin suburb. The casual shack that used to be pictured in the roadfood review has closed but the main restaurant remains open. Willie's plate (an enchilada and tamale combo) is named after Willie Nelson. The tamales were quite good( though i did not care for the chili that is a frequent accompaniment). The owner was a nice man who explained the location changes and  was very concerned I did not like the chili (he offered my money back which I refused because I liked the tamales a lot). It was a great meal though I think I would have preferred the funky charm of the shack. The breakfast items are still available in the restaurant.
   A word about Bee Cave. The entire town seems to consist of several shopping malls and the city hall was located in a shopping mall parking lot. It was not an aesthetically  pleasing town.
   Bushie had shown me "The Broken Spoke Music and Supper Club" during our tour of Austin. He told me any country music fan ought to stop there and my guides at the Austin Motel told me the same thing. I ventured out, turned into the unpaved parking lot and spent the evening listening to some great music. Owner James White and local legend Alvin Crow sang country standards as we all yipped and hollered. Mr. Crow's niece passed the tip jar around( young uns are permitted( if accompanied by parents) and I drank Shiner Bock after discovering to my horror that Lone Star beer is now brewed in Wisconsin. My then 14 year old son Sam was fascinated by this quirk in Texas law. It was a pleasure to listen to the guys sing. The celebrity photo room features photos of White's friend Willie Nelson in all his incarnations since the 1960's, a cowboy hat from LBJ and photos of Mr. White with stars like Robert Duvall and Clint Eastwood. Mr. White is a convivial fellow who likes to talk and we had a great conversation. Staff were excited that Samantha Brown of the Travel Channel had featured the place on her then new series about weekend vacations and were happy to relate how nice and un-star like she was. I can't thank Bushie enough for recommending this place to me.
<message edited by mr chips on Thu, 10/20/11 2:54 AM>

Nancypalooza
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Re:An Old Road Trip To Texas - Wed, 04/28/10 9:53 AM
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I do like that Samantha Brown, and I have a lot of Shiner Bock junkie friends.  As I understand it used to be a small locally owned brand but I do think it's produced by one of the biggies now.

mr chips
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Re:An Old Road Trip To Texas - Wed, 04/28/10 9:44 PM
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Two things about the trip stood out for me that were neither about food or sightseeing. This is as good a time as any to mention them.
(1) Throughout my time in Austin, I was continually struck by the eerie similarity between Austin and my hometown of Portland, Oregon. Austin counterculture slogan"keep Austin weird"; Portland slogan"keep Portland weird"; notes on Austin area restaurant menus(we use only the finest local Texas ingredients); notes on Portland menus( we use only the finest Pacific northwest ingredients), a killer club scene with a lot of great local musicians, a lot of restaurants with creative local chefs, an artsy vibe where musicians, artists and creative people settle, congregate and perform, a lot of aging hippies and new wavers. When i got back to Portland and talked to friends who have moved here from other cities, I talked to five couples who said their top choices of places to live had been Portland and Austin. The vibe there was familiar always.
(2) The Austin Motel is one of the best places I have ever stayed in terms of getting a feel for the city. Staffed by creatives, in the middle of the utrahip South Congress area, designed with eclectic, individualistic furniture in the rooms, the guests often musicians or very interesting, talkative travelers, it made my Austin experience rich. Stay there if you can. 
<message edited by mr chips on Sun, 07/11/10 6:09 PM>

LeadBelly
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Re:An Old Road Trip To Texas - Wed, 04/28/10 10:07 PM
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Just wanted to say that I'm really enjoying this trip to Texas. I'm planning to make a return trip either October this year or next February and this makes me wish it was a little sooner. 

mar52
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Re:An Old Road Trip To Texas - Wed, 04/28/10 10:08 PM
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Mr. Chips. your words paint a beautiful picture.



Nancypalooza
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Re:An Old Road Trip To Texas - Thu, 04/29/10 10:11 AM
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I do love Austin and haven't been in forever.  A 'Keep (x) Weird' place is a place to be treasured.

mr chips
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Re:An Old Road Trip To Texas - Sun, 05/2/10 4:32 PM
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Day 5(September 3, 2008)
    The day began with a short drive from Austin to Buda, Texas for a stop at the Roadfood reviewed Helen's Casa Alde.This is a small place in the old fashioned downtown located across from a railroad depot park and  nice stained glass window on the building .The choice here was the most excellent breakfast taco, which comes in two varieties called the Same and the Fattie. Both had the proper mix of beans, eggs, chiles and bacon which make the breakfast taco a most appealing breakfast option in the lone star state. The decor was Texan with lots of cowboy and mexican stuff(A picture of Willie Nelson seems de riguer) and the meal cheap and filling. The waitress and owner read the Roadfood review with interest and hung it up by the cash register immediately. I loved the food and the experience here and hope other roadfooders will visit the place.
   From Buda, the next stop was Lockhart, Texas, barbecue capital of the universe. Black's Barbecue was the first stop(they open at 10 a.m.). The feel was homey(lots of pictures of the Black family and the sports teams sponsored by the restaurant). perfectly cooked brisket with just the right amount of fat and sides of coleslaw and mac and cheese.. The brisket melted in my mouth, the sides were world class. The flavor is one to savor as it is a wonderful combo of tenderness, fat and smoke. I felt a bit like a pilgrim to Jerusalem or another holy place.
    Kreutz Market is on the outskirts of Lockhart and seems more self-conscious about its status as an icon. Jokey signs about a seperate vegetarian  entrance to the restaurant and not accepting checks, an interior that looks like a barn and a smokey,  warm feel indicates that barbecue(and barbecue only) is the focus. You go to the pit, place your order and are rung up by older women in hairnets,your meat cut by a precise surgeon. I was fortunate enough to talk to one woman who had been there for 40 years. I had a wondrous brisket that was a little dry but truly magnificent(no sauce is offered as Kreutz management believes it interferes with the taste of the meat). kreutz is barbecue fundamentalism and a must stop for the foodie.
    Next stop was the City market in Luling, Texas(reviewed on roadfood). Luling was a surprise to me as it was the site of a 1920's oil boom of which I was unaware. There were a lot of oil pumps in town, some with cutesy decorations like a grasshopper or kids riding a seesaw. The oil museum downtown traced the history of the town and its oil boom(apparently Howard Hughes dad made a good deal of his money designing equipment for the Luling oil fields). it was an interesting and informative way to pass an hour. Luling barbecue did not disappoint. The pit is smokey and warm, as if Dante's inferno was a barbecue spot. The pitmaster opened the grill so I could take a picture of its delights. The sausage I ate was chewy, filled with beef and very moist. The most amazing thing to me is how each Texas place maintained such a high quality and I was not disappoined witn any of them.
   Next stop was the Texas Pie Shop in Kyle, Texas, very close to Austin. You can't miss it. Located in the old downtown's main drag, there is a large slice of pie on an outdoor sign with the legend "Eat More Pie." I happily complied. At the cash register, there as a story about the owner's meeting with Jane Stern who praised her pecan pie. This decided me and i had an individual pecan pie that was otherworldly, sweet, luxurious,  a sensual delight. On a great food day, this was a topper, a dessert worthy of the world class barbecue that preceded it.


<message edited by mr chips on Sun, 07/11/10 6:07 PM>

mr chips
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Re:An Old Road Trip To Texas - Sun, 05/2/10 5:43 PM
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Day 5(part 2)
      After the marvelous pie in Kyle, I drove the short distance back to Austin and visited the LBJ Presidential Library at the University of texas. Great information about him and his life, a very good exhibit about the space program, a replica of the oval office. Most creepy was an audioanmatronic creation that looked like LBJ in ranch clothes telling jokes and stories. The surprise to me was a display about Lady Bird. i had been unaware as a kid about how passionate she was about the environment. A fitting end to my LBJ tourism.
    Modern politics dominated the evening. I went to downtown Austin landmark Hut's Hamburgers. The place has the look of a 1950's drive in and the  burger  menu of a hipster hangout. Ostrich, buffalo, and texas longhorn are among the burger options. I had a mexican Texas Longhorn burger with jalapenos and guacamole, washed down by Shiner bock. Watched the Sarah Palin speech at the republican convention while there. Only regret for the night was it was 2 for 1 night and bushie was not with me.
<message edited by mr chips on Tue, 10/18/11 11:56 PM>

mr chips
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Re:An Old Road Trip To Texas - Sun, 05/2/10 6:35 PM
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Day 6(September 4,2008)
           A day for sightseeing and not for roadfood. Started off the day with a visit to the Texas State Capitol Building. The dome is taller than the U.S. Capitol and i enjoyed craning my neck upward to see the building in all its glory. I loved the portraits of the governors and the Republic of Texas presidents and was enchanted by a volunteer guide in the House of Representatives who gave out a lot of helpful information about Texas politics despite her well hidden dislike of my obvious admiration for Texas liberals.
        Second stop was the Capitol Visitor Center, housed in a neo-gothic monstrosity a short distance from the capitol. It used to be the Texas Land Claim office and houses some interesting displays. Writer O Henry worked in this building for a number of years so there is an impressive exhibition about his life and work. Well worth the time.
     Spent the rest of the day in the Bob Bullock Texas Historical Museum, probably the best state historical museum i have ever visited. the displays on pre-Columbian Texas, the Texas war for Independence, Texas in movies and the history of the T.V. show "Dallas" were outstanding and i learned a great deal. i've always had a weakness for this sort of place and I enjoyed my half-day there.
     Driving along the freeway, I noticed a restaurant shaped like a boat called Capt'n Benny's. Roadfood reviewed(in the books I believe), it had started as a dockside restaurant in Houston and had expanded into a group of 4 restaurants in Houston and Austin. Ate some oysters on the half-shell, washed it down with some Shiner and enjoyed the change of pace from barbecue.
    Met Bushie for dinner and ate at Frisco's, the last remnant of diners that have served Austin folks for over 70 years. The former owner had been Mayor of Austin in the 60's and was a leader in the fight to integrate the city during that era. The place is famous for burgers and tex-mex and i had a pair of enchiladas that were quite good. Bushie was a boon companion and we talked abiut Austin, politics and life. i really look forward to my next visit and renewing my acquaintance with this fascinating man.
<message edited by mr chips on Thu, 10/20/11 2:57 AM>

mr chips
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Re:An Old Road Trip To Texas - Sun, 05/2/10 7:58 PM
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Day 7(September,5,2008)
     My return day. Breakfast was at a place strongly recommended by Bushie, the Omlettry on Burnett Rd just north of the University of Texas. The outside was decorated with a colorful mural of contented eggs and happy vegetables, the inside filled with with work of local artist; that day the interior featured numerous portraits of the godfather of soul, James Brown. A picture on the door of theman in black informed all that the place was cash only. and the food...
   The speciality of the place is omlettes and i had a first rate one with lots of cheese and veggies. But what lingers in my mind is the ginger pancakes. Moist, fluffy, and huge, heaped with ginger, they are a taste treat worth any roadfooder's time while in Austin. I thank Bushie for his insistence I try the place and I hope other roadfooders will make the pilgrimage.
       I drove down to New Braunfels, took the exit for the New Braunfels Smokehouse and discovered I had been Travel Manned. Where the Smokehouse had stood was a sign saying it had been torn down and would reopen in a new building in the near future. The online and phone order options remained open, a smokehouse reopened but I have read nothing about the new place. The place is no longer reviewed on the roadfood website.
    Continuing to San Antonio, I decided to stop at the San Antonio Art Museum. It is located in the old Lone Star Brewery complex and it was an exciting find for me. It is home to the Nelson Rockefeller Latin American Folk Art Collection. These works are an illustration of what good taste and virtually unlimited money can acquire. The mexican Folk Art was my favorite(portraits of Santiago de Compostela, rural scenes, Panamanian works with an African flair were also memorable). My camera ran out of power or I might have photographed everything. The place was a completely unexpected pleasure and a fitting last stop in Texas.
   My flight home thru Chicago was blissfully uneventful. Unfortunately, I was unable to get a Chicago style dog. I was glad to return home to wife and son after a wonderful week in the Lone Star state. 


<message edited by mr chips on Sun, 07/11/10 6:02 PM>

mayor al
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Re:An Old Road Trip To Texas - Sun, 05/2/10 10:22 PM
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The Shiner name may have been purchased by the St Louis giant...I have heard both Pro and Con stories about that buy-out...but the beer itself still is brewed at the little brewery in Shiner TX. Take the tour, hear the story and drink the samples offered and you will gain a quick appreciation for that  solid Texas Beer !

We are enjoying your narrative Chips, Keep it coming !

mr chips
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Re:An Old Road Trip To Texas - Sat, 05/8/10 10:16 AM
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Trip(conclusions)
                My Texas trip was something of a consolation prize. i had been scheduled as part of the bus trip but Trudy had emergency eye surgery and i rescheduled with no penalty fee. I had a lot of roadfood meals, got to make a new roadfood friend with Bushie , got to see two minor league ballparks and a marvelous art museum. What i could not convey was the constant worry about a hurricane hitting either New Orleans or Houston that was a companion throughout the trip. I don't know if I could eat as much now as i did then and i'm not sure I would want to spend as much time away from my family. It was a wonderful time and the best experience of Texas barbecue I could have hoped for.
<message edited by mr chips on Wed, 05/26/10 3:47 PM>

mland520
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Re:An Old Road Trip To Texas - Sat, 05/8/10 11:02 AM
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I am sorry to hear that Lone Star Brewery is closed, but glad to know the building has been repurposed and with such a great collection.

A very long time ago, when we were first here in Texas, we took a long weekend, with not much money, and drove from North Texas to San Antonio. The trolleys there were relatively new, only $0.10 per person, and since we were determined to see as many sights as we could,  we took one trolley as far out as it would go, and then we walked about another mile or so from that point, to  take the tour of the Lone Star Brewery. Keep in mind,  there were three adults and five kids- it was July and hotter than ever, but fortunately for us, the gardens at the brewery were being watered, and so at the end of our "walk" the kids ran under the sprinklers to cool off .  We received extra tokens from the lady at the gate. I guess she felt really sorry for us, especially when she found out we had walked from the last trolley outpost. She said we could indulge in the free beer and root beer, to cool down. Our children are all grown now, but they still talk about that trip and the walk we took to visit a brewery.

WSZsr
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Re:An Old Road Trip To Texas - Mon, 10/10/11 4:29 PM
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mr chips


Day 2 began with a short drive from San Antonio to the Blanco Bowling Club and Cafe in Blanco, Texas. Michael Stern's review says any serious lemon meringue pie lover must try the pie here and he was right. Fluffy, sweet, tangy, delicious. i got part of the first pie of the day. I was saving room for a chicken fried steak breakfast in Johnson City down the road so I regretfully passed up breakfast but I'm hoping for a return some day.
    Next stop was Johnson City for a stop at the Hill Country Cupboard. Michael Stern said on the Nashville Roadfood bus tour that the chicken fired steak here was the best he ever had so I was filled with anticipation. It was very good, served with cream gravy, grits and eggs, lightly seasoned with pepper. A little bland until I seasoned it with a drop or two of tabasco. Very good if you are in the area but I would not go too far out of my way to visit the Hill Country Cupboard.
Next stop was the LBJ Ranch in Stonewall, 8 miles from Johnson City. By blind luck, I visited 3 days after LBJ's office in the ranch house had opened to the public, the first part of the interior house that could be visited. The office was pure Lyndon, phones all over the place,cattle awards, a fancy saddle that had been a gift from the President of Mexico. It was not hard to imagine the whirlwind in the place, trying to control the whole world. 
  My visit was at an unusual time. The tour buses were not running so visitors could drive across the ranch themselves. I stopped at the reconstructed LBJ birthplace, the Johnson family cemetery, the still active cattle show barn and of course the ranchhouse. There was also a collection of the convertibles and fancy cars that LBJ drove around the ranch.
   The NPS rangers at the visitor center who told me my next food stop ought to be the Bluebonnet Cafe in Marble Falls. one even jokingly offered to join me. Unfortunately the cafe was closing when i called so I made alternate plans to go to Cooper's Pit Barbecue in Mason, Texas.
    On the way to Fredericksburg I saw a sign for Luckenbach road. As a devoted fan of Waylon Jennings and Willie Nelson, I knew where I was. I made the turn and in 8 miles I was in Luchenbach,a collection of run down buildings that was a tourist happening. There must have been 300 motorcycles in the parking lots, a music group was jamming, bikers of all types were chatting and showing off gear. I ordered a Lone Star, bought Trudy a souvenir,walked around and enjoyed the vibe.

 

You didn't miss much.  The Bluebonnet Cafe is grossly overrated.  

 

mr chips
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Re:An Old Road Trip To Texas - Wed, 10/19/11 12:00 AM
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I'm still sorry i missed the Bluebonnet.

Twinwillow
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Re:An Old Road Trip To Texas - Wed, 10/19/11 9:56 AM
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Great road trip. I enjoyed reading it, again! Me thinks me ready for more Central Texas 'Q!

billyboy
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Re:An Old Road Trip To Texas - Wed, 10/19/11 11:57 AM
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Don't know how I missed this one but what an excellent write-up, Mr. Chips.  So descriptive and you really captured the sights, food and people of Texas in your words.  Thanks.

HollyDolly
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Re:An Old Road Trip To Texas - Wed, 10/19/11 2:48 PM
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Thanks for the write up.New Braunfels Smokehouse is open in a new building,on the same land as the old one.It's a little smaller than the old one, and you can et there and buy their meat products. Not sure why the family decided to do that.
Their website should have a photo of their new place.