I spent much of the last week in Austin for SXSW, so rather than hipping you guys to some local jewel this week, I've decided to give a play-by-play commentary of how I vittled down in the Live Music Capitol of the World.
Comprehensive Dude Factor: 9, or Doug Sahm, on a scale of 1, "Christopher Cross," to 10, "Willie Nelson."
After three and half hours of assorted I-35 bullshit I arrive in Austin, where I immediately make plans to meet an old amigo for dinner. Our destination: Hut's Hamburgers on 6th Street, a storied institution that's been doing business under a number of names since 1939. The main attraction: 20 different burgers with names like "The Alan Freed Burger," "The Wolfman Jack," "Chubby Chuck's" and "The Dagburger".
Unfortunately, all these burger names and the descriptions take way too much reading. Finally I throw the menu down in disgust and request my favored blue cheese-and-bacon combo. Somehow my buddy manages to order a basket containing exactly two onion rings with his burger. I think he said it was a 'quarter order,' but it was nevertheless a little disturbing--kind of like those little baby half cans of Budweiser. Probably not the best burger in Austin (there are those that would argue it's not even the best burger on 6th Street), but after passing through Waco, almost anything tastes good.
Bonus points for the family in giant-sized sombreros in the booth behind us. Points deducted for innard travel time, which caused me to run for the comforting cleanliness of the Austin Convention Center between bands and miss half of a set by Those Darlins, a punkish country band form Murfreesboro, Tennessee, featuring three total babes.
I wake up after a long night of watching bands and "blogging" with a dude-sized hankering for that staple of Austin cuisine, breakfast tacos. Luckily, this being Austin, there are breakfast taco options, even long after noon--a near impossibility here in Big D unless you're at the Taco Joint on a Saturday. (Seriously, is it that hard to scramble up some eggs for a couple more hours? And while I'm airing grievances, almost every Tex-Mex chef in Dallas should go to Austin for some kind of queso seminar; because the vast majority of you people just aren't doing it right.)
Nearly everyone I know has a favorite breakfast taco destination in Austin, but mine is Nueva Onda, where I sit down to two sizable and delicious bacon, egg and cheese tacos while listening to some awful acoustic duo tearing it up on the patio. Honestly, Neil Young could have been on that stage and I wouldn't have cared--I was way too busy spacing out on how good the tacos were.
Thursday night I sit down with compadres at B.D. Riley's on 6th Street, which is conveniently located and has seats. Otherwise, eh.
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After watching Dinosaur Jr. play possibly the loudest set of SXSW, several of us hit up Roppolo's Pizzeria's Red River pizza bus, where a drunk guy loudly accosts me, saying "look at this f&*king guy with his f*^king hat ordering his f#@king pepperoni." Then, he orders a slice of veggie pie with f&@king broccoli on it. This sums up Austin in a nutshell. Lots of dude food, way too much dude-envy.
I wake up late and have to eat on the run, so I hit a stand labeled "Gourmet Street Food" and order what turns out to be one of the finest hot dogs of my life. It's an all-beef dog doused in tomatillo salsa, bacon and monterey jack. As I eat and walk I notice several people eye-ing my dog with envy (dog-envy?)--and they are right to do so. To finish, I eat bacon and cheese out of the cardboard container with a fork. Then I don't drink anything for over an hour in order to savor the flavor.
After seeing my last band at 8:30 p.m., I'm forced to depart for Dallas in order to make a wedding rehearsal the next morning. I dine at the Round Rock Whataburger, where it takes 25 minutes for the 10-strong staff to whip up some chicken fingers, fries and Texas toast.
At this point I curse myself for not hitting that hot dog stand again...