i know what we’ll be munching on late at night this summer when my ATL friends come to visit: Han Solo in chocolat-ite.
i just created a custom Google Map that pinpoints nearly all of the BBQ joints in Austin. i’ve made a birthday resolution that over the next year, I will sample all of Austin’s BBQ. that’s a tall order, so i’m going to have to work at it.
today i’m going to start w/ a place right near my house called Six Napkins. i’ve never heard of it, so i hope it’s good. i’m slightly scared of the quality, as anything located on Airport Blvd. is hit or miss. regarding the name of the place, i’m assuming it’s a reference to the six flags that flew over TX: Spain, Mexico, France, Texas, USA, Confederate S.A. (hence the name for Six Flags amusement parks). either that or it’s really messy BBQ. probably both.
i’ve written about Metro coffee before – it was pretty much where i started drinking coffee when i started architecture school. it was conveniently located across the street from school, was open 24hrs, and had free wifi. slowly, as all the independent coffee shops on the Drag begin to wither and die, so too did my love for Metro. their coffee became brown water. they stopped staying open 24 hrs (in their defense, they claim that the smoking ban killed off most of their late night business, which is probably true). they stopped accepting credit cards – this one i can’t understand at all. the amount of money that they save in credit card transactions probably doesn’t compare to the amount of business they lost. but they’ve stayed open on that policy for over year, so i must be wrong. for all of those reasons (mostly the shite coffee and lack of credit cards), i stopped going to Metro.
aside from Metro, the only places to get coffee in walking distance of the architecture school are Starbucks at 24th st. and Java City in the Union. both are corporate coffee chains, but obviously Starbucks is the larger of the two. a few weeks ago i found out (from a Java City worker) that they’d be closing up shop this summer. why would they close up? they’re the only coffee shop in the immediate vicinity. wait for it… wait for it… b/c this summer Starbucks will be opening up in the Union, directly next door to where Java City now stands. fantastic. we will now have 2 Starbucks w/in 2 blocks of each other, and no other coffee shops in walking distance.
i only have 2 things to say to this dastardly turn of events:
- thank god i’m graduating next month and moving to a firm downtown where there still exist a few independent coffee shops.
- go read my friend’s new novel: National Darkroast Day.
i’ve been in austin for several years, and though i still have not made it out to Salt Lick (i know, i know, i’ll get around to it soon), i’ve been eating a lot of bbq. and i love me some good bbq. nothing like a good briscuit sandwich. mmm… and so i realized yesterday when i got a sandwich at Ruby’s bbq, that i’ve never written about them. here’s the review: Ruby’s rocks.
the first time i went to Ruby’s, i wasn’t expecting anything in particular, just some bbq. i’d ridden by it on numerous occassions, but had never gone in. obviously at a certain point, you feel obligated to try something you see so often – plus the sign w/ the giant skull out front is awesome. so i went inside one day, looked at the menu, and was deciding on what to eat when i saw an info packet next to the register. Ruby’s serves B3R all-natural organic beef. end of story, i’m hooked. this is austin, so organic is expected in many places, but i never really expected to find organic bbq. i had the B3R bricuit sandwich (B3R has since been bought by Coleman Meats, who continues to raise all-natural beef), and it was fantastic. so good, in fact, that i rarely get anything else when i go to Ruby’s. i’m kind of like that – w/ a particular type of food or place, i stick to one dish. for instance, if i go to a standard Chinese restaurant – not one that i know is really good – i’ll always get chicken lo-mein. same w/ italian – unless this a good place, i’ll get chicken parmigiana. i love these dishes, and generally i’m pretty experimental w/ the types of foods i order. it’s really just chinese and italian – and now Ruby’s.
the decor is just how you expect a bbq joint to be. it’s an old house that’s slightly run down. outside painted all yellow, big steer skull on the roof, interior is all wood paneling, pictures of local blues and rock legeneds and signed notes cover the walls, random assortment of chairs and tables, beans cooking in a beat up pot behind the counter, and the best damn match books you’ve ever seen. i pick up a book of matches every time i’m in there, but i don’t smoke. i just like the way they look. there’s also a covered outdoor seating area where the wall is littered w/ ads for local shows. there’s a stage in the back, but i’m not sure it’s used. the smokehouse is also out back – everytime i drive or bike down guadalupe by 30th, i can smell Ruby’s and i start to salivate.
the sandwich comes on a seedless bun, brimming w/ cut briscuit, a paper cup filled w/ bbq sauce (enough to drench the sandwich), and a side of pickles and onions to add to the sandwich, all on a tray covered in a sheet of wax paper. i usually leave the onions out. you can order side dishes as well, but to me, it detracts from the delicious experience of that sandwich. the one thing i DO get, is a bottomless glass of RC Cola. now, to me, bbq doesn’t go w/ Coke. it goes w/ RC Cola. RC is sweeter, and somehow has that down-home feel that you just can’t get w/ one of the largest corporations in the world. call me crazy. anyway, that’s pretty much all i eat at Ruby’s, and i would do well to try out some other dishes one of these days, but until then, know that Ruby’s serves all-natural grass fed beef and they do it well. also check out the press page on Ruby’s website to see their numerous favorable reviews in the likes of NYTimes Style Magazine, Texas Monthly, Esquire, and others
i have succumbed to the multi-planetary mega-corporation that is Starbucks. i now drink their coffee w/ increasing frequency (as opposed to the once in a while drink when they were the only coffee shop nearby). i don’t know if i can blame Starbucks or the ridiculous rents that seem to be constantly on the rise on the Drag (which i fear is the real culprit), but Starbucks is now the only decent coffee shop on the Drag. here’s what’s happened:
when i started school, we had Metro, Cafe Matisse, Starbucks, Little City, Mojo’s, Einstein Bagels, and Spider House a little ways north. Peet’s Coffee opened up about 2 years ago (although Peet’s is also a chain, they’re not Starbucks). Metro is where i finally started drinking coffee, and it was a match made in heaven for us architecture students – directly across the street from the architecture building and open 24 hours. either my taste in coffee has evolved (which it definitely has) or Metro’s coffee quality has gone straight to hell (which it definitely has). i can no longer stand to waste $1.50 on their brown water, especially since they’ve stopped accepting credit cards (at all! not even a minimum purchase!) and are no longer open 24 hours. So Metro is now completely out of the question. Mojo’s closed. Peet’s closed. Little City just closed (though their downtown location remains open). Little City’s closing is the real downer, as they had by far the best coffee on the drag and the coolest place. Cafe Matisse seems to be on permanent vacation and hasn’t opened for a while. Einstein Bagel’s coffee is pretty much on par w/ Metro – dark water, although it always smells nice. Spider House is too far to walk for a coffee during school. That leaves Starbucks as the only option. Dang.
on a side note, Dhaba Joy, a side venture from Toy Joy – the coolest toy store on Planet Earth, just opened. it’s next door to Toy Joy at 29th and Guadalupe, and Austinist says that they make fantastic spicy coffee – spicy coffee?! can’t wait to try it.
i haven’t eaten at the new Mellow Mushroom on the Drag yet, but that’s not to say i’ve never eaten at Mellow Mushroom before. see, Mellow Mushroom started out in the ATL, which is where i went to college and lived for a while following college. Mellow Mushroom is a nostalgic connection to one of my favorite cities.
when i did eat there, a remember it being ok, nothing i absolutely loved, but it was certainly better pizza than domino’s. it was also a fun vibe. additionally they had Simpsons trivia. now, trivia was a big part of my ATL career. there seemed to be trivia at a different bar every night, and the best part was always the names of the teams: Sue Itchy Guys, Uh-huh!!!! (you must watch Yatta to understand that ludicrous team name). but let me give you a clue to how ridiculously impossible it was to compete in Simpson’s trivia at the Mushroom – question 11: ‘what was the 3rd word utter by Homer following Ned’s exclamation 14 minutes into episode 156?’ yeah, i don’t know how anybody could anser that. of course, some team did, and they walked out w/ the title ‘need a life’.
anyway, i’m excited to have a culinary connection to the ATL, and will give the new Mellow Mushroom a taste one of these days.
Mellow Mushroom > by 26th and Guadalupe, formerly Legs Diamond.
following my burgeoning tradition of posting on gnarly new eateries, let me introduce you to East Side Pies. i ate there a few weeks ago, and though their website is utterly craptastic, their pizza is pretty good. i randomly came across them as i was driving home, and what a serendipidous discovery it was.
it’s thin-crust, so you should know that at the get-go. it’s also pretty expensive, with a regular slice at $2.50 and meat/veggie at $3.00. **side rant: generally speaking, i don’t know what the hell’s been going on w/ pizza pricing lately. pizza was still $1.25 in NY when i graduate high school. maybe $1.50. but where in the world is this inflationary runaway pizza pricing train coming from?! it’s a piece of dough, some tomato sauce, and some cheese. it costs, what, $0.20 per slice to make? cut us some slack pizza guys! back to east side pie – i think they’re price is also high considering they’re in east austin, where the vibe is hip and affordable.
ANYWAY, the pizza itself was good! similarly to el chilito, it’s just a walk-up place w/ outdoor seating. previous businesses in the location used to be a florist as well as a fish shop, or so i was told when i asked. 🙂 east side pies is painted all funky red, white, and black – it gives a 50’s vibe. the guys inside this tiny place seemed pretty cool, and they were psyched to be there – they were loud and excited about making pizza when i ordered. hey, somebody has to be. i’m pretty sure they had a liquor license app in the window when i stopped by, but their current menu (on the web site) doesn’t show beer, so who knows.
east side pizza is definitely a welcome addition to the austin quick-eats scene, as well as the ever-expanding collection of interesting east side joints.