Good-bye Austin!

It’s 28 degrees and sunny on our last day in Austin and we head to Walton’s Fancy and Staple for breakfast. Sandra Bullock, who lives in Austin, owns this establishment among other spots. Arriving and lucking into a parking spot right out front (there is a curious lack of traffic and an abundance of parking in downtown Austin), we are greeted by a very old-timey building with gold leaf signage.

Inside this elegantly restored historic building is a quaint granary, with rustic floors and tables, exposed brick walls and beamed ceilings. Small items like vintage style candies, baking cook books and coffee are for sale. The store boasts an in-house florist and a bakery with both unusual bakery items items like golden eggs (small nutmeg cake rolled in cinnamon and sugar) and traditional items like cream filled cupcakes, squares and whoopie pies.

The main part of the business is  a soup-salad-sandwich and breakfast bar. The hand scrawled chalk board has enticing items under the breakfast section such as grilled shrimp and grits.

Tempting, but oooh…it’s 10:30 and the lunch menu also looks very good. In the end I choose ham and cheese on a pretzel bun with a cup of onion soup, and Rob orders the pastrami with spicy potato salad. Walton’s uses organic local meat without injected preservatives and hormones.

I expected the usual run-of-the-mill deli ham but, no: the ham was thick sliced and oven roasted. Truly delicious paired with emmental Swiss cheese, crunchy leaf lettuce, dijon aioli on a soft, chewy, salted pretzel bun. The onion soup had great beefy depth and was very rich with cheese. A cup was enough. The sandwiches at Walton are substantial. Think about sharing if you want to order a side.

Rob’s Pastrami was very good: mild, well-made brisket pastrami with grainy mustard and Swiss on large pieces of grilled light rye bread. He did remove a bit of the mustard as it was over powering the meat, but once adjusted it was excellent. The potato salad was exceptional. Made creamy with a mustard-tinged mayo and kicked up with sliced jalapenos.

We also shared a golden egg out of curiosity. It was a light and delicious nutmeg cake concoction that, although baked not fried,  rolled in butter and sugar, still manages to taste like a very cakey, yet refined doughnut.

Walton’s was the kind of shop you wish they had back home — great sandwiches and other preparations, perfect for breakfast and lunch, a lovely bakery and a keen eye on quality.

Walton's Fancy and Staple on UrbanspoonOur early afternoon was spent walking Austin’s historic 6th Street and taking pictures in the lovely February sun. Soon we were hankering for a margarita and headed back to our favorite watering hole, Guero’s. Seems like everyone else had the same idea and we could not get a seat outside. Not wanting to waste the precious sunshine, we drove around looking for a patio. Seems there is not a lot of patio action in Austin in February, despite it being 28 degrees. Eventually we settled on a craft brewery, Uncle Billy’s Brew and ‘Cue, only because it had a patio. It’s not worth mentioning other than the beer was just okay, the margs below average and the queso…well, lets stop there. Better things await.

After spending an hour or two blogging and posting photos, we headed to Driftwood, Texas, about a 30 minute drive. In about an hour the sun will set on our last day in Texas. We are headed to The Salt Lick BBQ, another iconic Texas joint noted for open pit BBQ. After a leisurely drive through hills and valleys, we come upon the massive parking lot of the Salt Lick and its many out buildings. This is an impressive organization. We park and head over the the Salt Lick cellar, a pretty little building residing beside a still napping vineyard, and surrounded by rail fencing entwined with thorny rose canes. The Salt Lick is BYOB but sells wine and beer in this separate business on site. We saw the more prepared among our species lugging coolers.

After purchasing the minimum 6 pack on ice (Shiner Light Blonde), we headed inside the main building which houses the open pit, some seating, the cash and the requisite sauce and T-shirt “store”.

The Salt Lick is one of the only BBQ places that uses this open-pit style of smoking the meat, cooking it on a grill above a hot fire, constantly repositioning it to keep the temperature regulated. All of the meats they serve are cooked her at the same time. It’s quite a feast for the eyes to see this open pit in action.

We are quickly lead to the pleasant covered patio, with it’s warm, yellow Texas flagstone floor and lacquered wood tables and benches. The lighting is cheery and there are two trees growing through the canopy.

The staff is friendly and helpful. Our young waiter arrives and takes our order. We decide to eat family style which is all you can eat but brought to you by your server. Self serve is so wasteful. We were actually brought a perfect amount for us but our waiter was attentive if anything looked like it needed refilling.

We ordered moist brisket (choice of lean or moist), pork ribs, Texas link, beans, potato salad and coleslaw. Pickles, onion and white bread accompany the meal. Two creamy, tangy, mustard based sauces are provided, one sweet one with heat. They were unlike any other sauces we had tasted across the country The sauce is perfect for the meat, sweet how I like it but it allows the smokey flavours of the meat to come through.

The brisket is merely good. We were totally spoiled by the brisket at Kreuz. This mild brisket needed, and was rescued by the excellent Salt Lick BBQ Sauce sauce.

The pork ribs are meaty and well smoked to the bone with a good, thick bark. The Texas link is juicy and delicious especially eaten with the wonderful, soft white bread provided and the pickle which is much like a half sour deli pickle. Sides are also pleasing here at Salt Lick. The tangy coleslaw is crunchy and well dressed. Beans are of the unsweet cowboy variety of which I’m not fond, but the potato salad was excellent, creamy with a mustard-vinegar dressing which must have been poured in when the taters were still steaming hot. The dressing permeates right through the spuds instead of being a gloppy mess of mayo sitting on top. Addictive.

We had to push it away as the promise of a blackberry cobbler demanded it. Salt Lick offers peach and blackberry cobblers for dessert. We chose blackberry. Ice cream? Of course. The warm cobbler, dark with rich berry flavour and sweet with excellent vanilla ice cream was a perfect end to a great Texas day, and our final day in Texas.

The Salt Lick Bar-B-Que on Urbanspoon

 

 

Food Truck Day

Today is food truck day! Our goal: to have all of our meals at Austin food trucks around the city. Food truck culture is well ensconced here and there are a large number of choices available to hungry meal seekers. Every type of food is represented, across enthnicities, styles, and trends, for breakfast, lunch and dinner and from the basic to the hautest of haute.

These aren’t your father’s chip wagons. In Austin and other cities, food trucks are a lower cost alternative for a chef with vision to open a food business and to get known, gain a following and to be self-sufficient. The overhead and start-up costs are considerably lower. The nature of the competition is different as well as access and ambiance are taken out of the equation. The focus is on the food.

Our first stop of the day was one of Austin’s original and very popular food truck businesses, Torchy’s Tacos. One of the deciding factors for choosing Torchy’s was that only a small fraction of the trucks are open earlier in the day. Most open around 11:30 for the lunch crowd.

Torchy’s had a large assortment of Tacos available. I chose breakfast variants, chorizo and egg and a migas taco (egg, onion, green pepper, cheese and crisp tortilla strips). Both came with mild red sauce and a green sauce with a green chile kick.

Maureen ordered a “Dirty Sanchez” (probably just so she could say she did) and a green chile pork carnitas taco. The Dirty Sanchez had egg, poblano pepper that was battered and deep fried and dressed with guacamole, escabeche carrots and cheese. The other was stuffed with lots of pork carnitas,  green chile, cilantro , raw onion and soft queso cheese, with a mild herb creamy sauce.

Often tacos ordered this way can be quite small, and the idea is to order a few. These were not that kind. They were larger and full to the top with their fillings. All were delicious and were a great start to the day.

Torchy's Tacos on Urbanspoon

Our second stop was 400 feet down the road.

Gourdough’s specializes in big-ass doughnuts with exotic flavours. Among the 20 or so varieties that all look spectacular. After some major consternation we finally settle on one each.  Ordinarily we might order more and have a taste of each, but these doughnuts were $4.50 each, signaling that they were substantial in size.

I originally asked for the “Flying Pig”, with Bacon and a maple syrup glaze. After all that work of whittling the offerings down to a single choice, I was told that they were out of bacon. So back to the menu board. My plan B choice was  “Porkey’s”, a doughnut with cream cheese and jalapeño jelly topped with Canadian bacon.

Maureen choose a “Sarah’s Joy”, a doughnut with coconut cream filling, frosted with chocolate and covered with large, coarse coconut flakes.  Doughnuts are fried to order so when they called our names, the just-topped donuts were warm and very fresh. And large. Very large — a little wider than a CD in diameter, with no hole.

First mine: The fresh yeasty dough, the cream cheese and the jalapeño jelly were perfect together, not needing the superfluous bacon as it didn’t add or take away from the experience. Although, “Superfluous Bacon” is a very good name for a rock band. Maureen’s, however, was hands-down too sweet. The coconut cream was quite sweet and chocolate icing killed any chance the doughnut had left to be enjoyed. A word to bakers: Chocolate icing obliterates all other flavours — it’s strong and sweet and is almost always paired with more delicate ingredients that can’t stand up to it. Even chocolate cake suffers for it.

All was not lost, however. These are big doughnuts, so I happily gave up half of mine.

Gourdough's on Urbanspoon

Mid-afternoon we headed to our choice for a late lunch, called Fat Cactus, a truck that specialized in combining a couple of our favourite things: they made tacos and  sandwiches using Navaho fry bread, a crispy, fluffy, rich flat bread (similar to a Beaver Tail for our Ottawa-based readers). But alas, they were sold out by the time we got there… That’s an important lesson to learn for food truck aficionados — get it while you can.

The good news was that we were across the street from one of the largest collections of food trucks in Austin along South Congress. We looked at the many offerings, ranging from Cajun/Creole, to cupcakes, sausages, shaved ice treats, assortments of food cooked and put in cones and the one we selected, Thai. Food trucks often have great names built on puns and ours was no exception. “Coat & Thai” served the full range of Thai and near-Thai specialties.

We ordered red curry, pineapple fried rice, spicy Thai chicken wings and crab rangoon. A few minutes later our number is up and we bring it back to one of the communal picnic tables in the area. Everything is hot, home-made and delicious.

The fried rice has a subtle heat and is full of plump shrimp, pineapple, cilantro and vegetables. The red curry is medium spicy with a cilantro backbeat and goes very well on rice. Our chicken wings have that sweet, spicy Thai chili sauce on them and are addictive. Lastly, the crab rangoon (crab and cream cheese in a dumpling and deep fried — not a Thai dish, but an American invention first served at Trader Vic’s as faux Polynesian food) was creamy, and cooked so it was still tender. Lovely.


Coat and Thai on Urbanspoon

We headed out at about 8PM for our dinner spot, G’raj Mahal, and Indian food truck that has stretched the boundary of what could still be called a food truck. It started out as a trailer and some tables, but while the trailer is still the kitchen, they’ve added some semi-permanent structures to provide shelter for the tables and now have a seating capacity of about 60 people across three areas, and recently added full table service with waitstaff. You can also BYOB and many tables were making a night out of good food, company and wine. It’s still outside, the kitchen is in a trailer and it had humble beginnings, so it’s a food truck.

The theme is Indian food and their specialty is Goan cuisine, known for its use of coconut milk, seafood and chilies. We order some naan bread, sag paneer (Indian cheese with pureed spinach in curried cream), dahl, tandoori shrimp, chicken malabar (sweet coconut in caramelized onion cream sauce), and Goan Coconut Curry (Shrimp with freshly grated coconut, simmered with chilies).

The food is made with the freshest ingredients and the chef shies away from the usual artificial colours and shortcuts used by many Indian restaurants. This is without a doubt, the best Indian food I have ever had. The spice level of the food that the chef designates as “spicy” is well within our comfort zone. The coconut dishes are terrific. Sweet, nutty, spicy and creamy all at once. The creamy and rich sag paneer was also a standout. As with all really good Indian food, it’s impossible to stop eating! It takes almost superhuman strength to resist that last piece of naan soaked in the coconut curry.


G'Raj Mahal on UrbanspoonThat’s it for Food Truck Day. The variety and quality are both outstanding. Great food cities like New York, San Francisco, Portland and Austin are seeing more and more food trucks emerge as a key force in the culinary evolution of the city. One will only hope that other cities (Ottawa: hint, hint!) will change their minds about the crippling regulations that they have stacked against these businesses and will ensure they are allowed to flourish. Cities can only be better for it.

Texas Mish-Mash

Today was a patchwork day. Maureen and I went to an old Austin favourite for Breakfast, took a drive to San Antonio for Lunch, and ate sports event concession food for dinner.

Magnolia Cafe South on UrbanspoonThe day started with a trip to the Magnolia Cafe. it’s one of the most popular cafes in the hip SoCo (South Congress Avenue) district — a funky (overused term when describing things in Austin) 24-hour joint with an eclectic menu that described the cross-section of cultures here — cowboy favourites sit along side Mexican dishes. Diner food mingles with upscale eats.

Although the entire menu is available 24hrs a day, we were there for breakfast. Migas is a popular Tex-Mex breakfast item, scrambled eggs with onion, cheese, tortilla chips, served with tortillas and salsa and refried beans on the side. At Magnolia, there’s an option to order the “Love Migas” where the entire dish is cooked in garlic butter and serrano chilies. We opt for that, please!

The place is also celebrated for its plate-sized pancakes and we order one each — gingerbread for Maureen and I opt for the cornmeal pancake, continuing my love affair with all things corn.

Our breakfasts arrive and the aroma rises to make us want to roll around in the plate. The garlic, cheese, heat from the serranos are heaven when the eggs and beans and house-made chunky salsa are piled into a fresh, hot flour tortilla and eaten taco style. It makes for a creamy, eggy, spicy experience that’s totally unique to the Magnolia Cafe.

On to the pancakes: Maureen’s gingerbread pancake has the same rich hue of good gingerbread, but it has the soft and fluffy texture of a pancake, a real winning combo. My cornmeal pancake has great corn-cake flavour and a coarse texture from the cornmeal — great with butter and syrup.

We hit the road to check out some of the small towns (Gruene and New Braunfels) on the way to San Antonio to tour it’s famous Riverwalk — a peaceful, meandering canal through the heart of San Antonio. Constructed with a great deal of forethought and vision for the city, it’s overhung with Magnolia trees, filled with singing birds (important to us Canadians who have missed them for the last several months), and lined with plantings, fountains, cafes and shops. Some stretches of the canal reach into historic districts. Tour boats and water taxis move up river, some with bandoliers, and or microphoned tour guides.

Ibiza on UrbanspoonAfter walking some distance, checking out the sights, we were heavily motivated to have a seat at a sidewalk cafe and enjoy the warmth of the sun (it had been overcast and a little chilly (for Texans – still t-shirt weather for Canadians) since we’ve arrived. We chose Ibiza, an eatery that specializes in Latin cuisine, with Mexico, Cuba, Spain and others well-represented on the menu. We order the Cubano sandwich, which has the traditional ham, roast pork, cheese, pickles and mustard in a toasted roll. Ibiza decided to fore-go the pressing of the sandwich and left the roll in it’s full-volume state. Mixed veggie chips accompanied the sandwich and we washed it all down with a couple Blue Moons. The roast pork was excellent and was definitely the star of the show. As well, the Cubano depends on the combination of salty ham and pork, the creaminess of the cheese and the sharpness of plain old yellow mustard and pickle to provide it’s iconic flavour profile. Even though the sandwiches weren’t pressed, these satisfied the yen.

We headed back to Austin via I-35 — as depressing a stretch of road as you’re likely to find. Chain restaurants, one after another on both sides of the roads for miles and miles, broken up by gas stations, low-end hotels, warehouses and the odd outlet mall were the only view. It reminded us yet again, why we have a strict no interstates, no chain restaurants rule on our road trips.

We had to get back to Austin because we had tickets to the season opener of TXRD all-womens’ Roller Derby. Austin is the epicentre of the resurgence of this sport, blending more actual sport and less Wrestlemania-style they do inject some light-hearted fun into their version of the sport. There are local rock bands playing in the breaks and punishment for minor penalties are assessed by spinning a wheel. Punishments involve the potential to give up points if a penalized player loses a contest, such as a pillow fight, arm-wrestling, a tug-of-war or a two lap track race. However game play is serious and highly athletic, and there’s plenty of bone-crushing contact between players to keep the audience on their feet. There’s a punk rock aesthetic to the whole roller derby scene in Austin that keeps it a great venue for watching people letting their freak flag fly. It was a great time.

Jackalope on UrbanspoonAnother thing we liked about it was the concession food. Sure, you could get pizza and hot dogs, but you could also get some highly inventive fare from Jackalope, a local eatery. In addition to items like a jalapeno Texas hot-link dipped in orange pancake batter and deep-fried as their take on a corn dog, they had one item that was too intriguing to not order: jicima and cabbage slaw with Cap’n Crunch and couscous crusted fried chicken with green chile ranch dressing on top all served in a bacon waffle cone. This was easy to hold, easy to eat and man, was it good. Sweet, savoury with a nice bite from the slaw and heat from the green chile ranch. The chicken was tender and juicy and Cap’n Crunch is an inspired choice as breading material for fried chicken… well, fried ANYTHING for that matter.

In case you were wondering, the Holy Rollers beat the Putas Del Fuego in a close 54-51 match with the Putas putting on a major comeback push that made it a nail biter. It was a great day across a couple cities. We ended the night with a major crash and slept in on Monday.

 

Austin Day 2: Kreuz Market

It’s raining in Austin again today so we plan to do a little driving and exploring. Sun is promised for tomorrow and so is the Texas Marathon. But today, brunch will be at 24 Diner. This hip eatery is busy on Saturday and parking is hard to obtain. Once inside the wait is 15 minutes. We are seated and order drinks and peruse the menu. The interior is not diner-like at all but more hipster/industrial.

24 Diner on UrbanspoonThe menu has all the diner classics but refined and many healthy non-dinerish options. I order the Pork Belly sandwich that is reminiscent of a bahn mi with cucumber, mint, serrano and pickled red onion. Sides are ordered separately and I was intrigued by the menu option: vegetable of the day. I expected the usual bland selection of broccoli, carrots, or cauliflower. Today’s veg was brussel sprouts sauteed in a skillet. Sign me up! I love sprouts. The sandwich was good, the baguette perfectly chewy and the pork belly surprisingly meaty. The mint, serrano and cucumber were not evident and that was a little disappointing. The sprouts were awesome! Charred and sweet.

Rob ordered a patty melt with fries. The melt came nontraditionally on sourdough, but it was perfectly toasted on the flat-top with the pre-requisite fried onions and swiss cheese, combining for a creamy, sweet, sharp foil for the burger. Rob’s a sucker for a patty melt.

After lunch we headed over to the nearby Whole Foods store, perchance to dream. This Austin location is the flagship store and well… as a someone who shops for food in Ottawa…completely depressing. The selection is amazing.

A little tired walking the aisles? Stop here and have a craft beer. *sigh*
Our daughter Hannah always requests meatloaf when asked for dinner suggestions.
Raising the candy apple to an art form. The choice of prepared foods is staggering.

Kreuz Market (pronounced “KRITES”) in Lockhart has been on Rob’s radar for some time. It is one of the oldest and most traditional examples of Texas BBQ. We spent the afternoon cruising around in the inclement weather stopping here and there for a picture. Lockhart is about 40 minutes south of Austin and is considered a bit of a Mecca for BBQ enthusiasts. On the way to Lockhart, Rob informs me that he is not certain I’m going to like Kreuz. Why? Well…its hunks of meat and no sauce, and no forks. But there are sides right? Hmmm…crackers and pickles…maybe potato salad. Okay, I’m pretty sure I already hate this place. I don’t care about its iconic status. Oh well, I’ll grit my teeth and take one for the team.

Kreuz is huge. The woodlot out back is the size of your average supermarket garden center. When entering you are oddly accosted by several of those rip-off “claw and capture a stuffed animal” vending machines. Advance warning, parents. Further in the line up to order begins. Selection is small – two varieties of sausage, brisket, beef and pork ribs, smoked ham special today. Ordering is done at a central counter where you pay as well.

The ordering room contains several large smokers and open fires with hot burning logs. The clerk takes your meat orders only. She calls it out directly to the aproned, blackened cutter immediately behind her who slices your brisket and ribs. She weighs it and the cashier rings it up. It is bundled haphazardly with several slices of white bread in several layers of butcher paper and handed still open to you.

At this point you continue to the next ordering phase in the main dining hall. Here you have a few limited choices for sides including sauerkraut, German potatoes (roasted and steamed), mac and cheese, coleslaw and several pickle selections.

From here you find space at a table and spread out your meal. Kreuz also does not provide forks. Plastic spoons and knives and fingers. That’s it. We ordered the brisket (fat), pork ribs, a sausage, mac and cheese, sauerkraut and bread and butter pickles.

Normally we don’t order the brisket because it is too dry and strong tasting. This brisket however was amazing, moist, tender, flavourful, pull apart delicious with a delicate smoke. It was truly fantastic and I would never hesitate to order it. Like no brisket I’ve ever had. The pork ribs were good, very peppery, tender. and had a nice rosy deep smoke ring. They however could have benefited from a sweet Memphis BBQ sauce. Blasphemy, I know. Texas is about the meat but I am about the sauce. The sausage was very unseasoned and dull – perhaps because we were expecting a spiced Texas hot link and it turned out to be German-style sausage. Again, sauce would have rescued it. We ate most of the meal wrapping the juicy brisket in white bread with the crunchy sweet pickles. Heaven.

The sides are fine. Coleslaw is crunchy, creamy and tasty. The mac and cheese is overcooked pasta in day-glo orange cheese sauce and is awful in that perfect, excellent way. The thick ridge cut bread and butter pickles are the perfect foil to the fatty meat. On the whole Kreuz was an awesome Texas BBQ experience and well worth going out of your way to try.

Kreuz Market on Urbanspoon

 

 

Austin!

Touched down just after noon on Friday. Up since 4 am we are tired and hungry. Austin is overcast and a light rain falls but it is also verdant with spring, mild and the birds are singing, with the bonus of being sans slush and the treachery that is our Ottawa driveway currently.

Rob and I have been to Austin on two other occasions for all-too-brief stops on road trips, so we already have a basic lay of the land and some favorite places to grab a bite. We make an easy decision. Gueros!


Guero's Taco Bar on Urbanspoon

Despite the drizzle, South Congress is alive and buzzing on this Friday mid-afternoon. We luck into a parking spot across from the restaurant and head in. Guero’s is packed but has a couple of free tables. We get seated and first up: Margaritas! We already know Guero’s does ’em right. They offer about 15 margs with different tequilas. We order The Don, February’s featured marg made with Don Julio tequila, Triple Sec, fresh lime juice, rocks, salted rim for me, no salt for Rob. Our drinks arrive with a slice of lime and starting to sweat. Guero margs are in short glasses and are about twenty shades paler than the neon chartreuse abomination that the unfortunate think is a real margarita. Ooooh! Goes down easy after our long day.

Drinks arrive with complimentary, well made corn tortilla chips and two house salsas. The first, a smooth, roasted tomato chile dip provides a nice spicy burn. The second is a fresh, chunky pico de gallo with a hint of creaminess provided by some chopped avocado. I’m not sure which I prefer. Both are great with a margarita. I do immediately regret wearing a white shirt however.

Starving, we select a few apps off the menu to share. Tacos Al Pastor and Chorizo Quesadillas. The tacos are small, open-faced and piled with spiced pork and pico de gallo laced with coriander and fresh pineapple. They come with lots of fresh lime. The quesadillas keep me coming back to Guero’s. The soft, pillowy flour tortillas (corn are also available) are sumptuous with just enough cheese, chorizo and spiced oil rendered from the meat to glue the tortillas together. A generous helping of guacamole and sour cream for spooning up with each bite makes these the perfect marg-soaking-up food. With our bellies content we head to the hotel to check in and have a much needed nap.

Refreshed and ready to roll, we select the Iron Cactus for dinner because we can walk there. We are only a block from 6th street which is hopping on a Friday night despite the rain. The Iron Cactus, a large two story affair here in Austin, has a few locations in Texas, much like the Lone Star in Ontario minus the fake Texas crap and waiter named Durango. We have a 15 minute wait at the bar where the tender tells us they make a  mighty good margarita. We bite. They have a pretty good array of tequila behind the bar. He makes us a decent drink with fresh lime and agave nectar. It’s good but a tad too sweet. Not bad though. The bar is noisy on a Friday. We are by a factor of two, the oldest people in the joint. Oddly the sound track beckons to us: The Zombies, Johnny Cash, Pink Floyd, Tom Petty and Steppenwolf.

Iron Cactus on UrbanspoonAfter we are seated, I order a local beer, Fireman Four. Complimentary chips with two roasted chile -tomato salsas, one warm, one cold arrive. Chips are good and the salsas tasty. We order a Chile Con Queso app. It arrives in a cast iron pan, thin and white with a few chunks of chilies and tomato. Quite average but really good when sharing a chip with the mildly spicy roasted salsas.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

For mains we are sharing an order of shrimp and pork carnitas fajitas. The dish arrives hot but not sizzling.  The pork is in good sized chunks, sweet and nicely spicy. The shrimp appear to be wild caught as they have an intense shrimpy taste and are smokey sweet. Accompanying the proteins are nicely sauteed onions, poblanos, and red peppers. The flour tortillas (again corn are offered) are soft and perfect. Our mains come with a choice of beans. We both opt for the bacon onion beans which are very good but not sweet. The Mexican rice is dull and the classic fajita fixins are fine but in our book cheese is a no no and the guacamole had been set out too far in advance and had started to oxidize which is unappetizing.

We head back to our hotel via 6th Street, Austin’s bar and restaurant scene. Lots of colourful characters and live music spill out into the street. Can’t wait to check it out!