Everything really is bigger in Texas, especially the amounts of excess you can indulge in. I mean, one of my mottoes in life is ‘Anything worth doing is worth overdoing.’ Texas seems to embrace that ideal. Everything is just as you know it, just carried to the nth degree. For example, during my stay in Austin one of the days was a Saturday during college football season, so I needed to find a bar in which to watch my Huskies play. I looked up a few likely candidates and went to check them out. I knew I had found the right bar for me when I walked in, went up to the bar and amidst all of the requisite sports bar fixtures found Zwack, on tap. Let me say that again, Zwack, on tap.
I imagine the conversation that resulted in that decision probably went something along these lines.
“You know, Jäger on tap is everywhere, and I like daring people to take shots of black, herbally, bitter things. What’ll make us stand out?”
“Yeah, shots on a dare are great!”
“Let’s go to the liquor store and get one of everything from the shelf that Jäger is on and try them all!”
Time passes, many bottles, shots, and beers later…….
“Holy hell what was that last one?!”
“I think it says Zwack or something, you should have seen your face pucker!”
“That’s the one! Let’s put it on tap, and not some weak ass cooler machine, it gets a tap!”
For me though, it was a nirvana moment. Clouds parted, hosannas were sung, and I had found my home for the next several hours. That Zwack handle became my friend as the need to dull the pain grew more and more acute as my team sucked it up. We were terrible that day, and ice cold amaro dispensed in volume made it so much better.
I’d also like to take this moment to thank the genius who invented breakfast tacos. You sir, or madam, need one of those Bud Light Real Men of Genius commercials, except not ironic. In this wonderful time we live in of combining two things that are great into one awesome mashup, this has to be one of the most successful ever. Breakfast food, good. Tacos, good. Place one in the other and enjoy, what’s not to like? Thank you Texas.
I’m noing to say too much about drinking in Austin except that there are some really great places to drink there like Peche, Eastside Showroom, and Fino, I need more research first. There’s some really amazing food like 24 Diner and Foreign & Domestic. 24 Diner would so be my go to place at all hours if I lived in Austin, chicken and waffles done to perfection, 24 hours a day, and a bunch of other comfort food, but chicken and waffles, 24 hours a day. Wrap your mind around that, you’re welcome. (Random grammer rant: Dear people, it’s ‘you’re welcome,’ not ‘your welcome.’ You are saying that someone is welcome to something, not that they possess welcome. I now return you to your regularly scheduled post.)
Foreign and Domestic rocked my world. It was epiphany having, new hope for ‘Merika giving, ready to weep in joy, good. My friend Mindy, bartendrix extraordinaire at Anvil Bar and Refuge in Houston drove up to drag my butt down there but not before we had one of the best meals I had all year. Venison heart tartare with crispy pig ears was divine, perfectly executed tartare complemented by crunchy, crispy, fried pig ears just sang in my mouth. The two textures coming together to contrast perfectly, the salty ears, cutting the richness of the egg in the tartare, crap, now I’m hungry. Beef tongue with a perfect crust on it followed, excellent foie gras mousse, and a wonderfully juicy pork steak to round it off. The place was jamming and if this is how middle America is eating at least in part, then there’s hope for us all.
From Austin to Houston and right to the door of one my favourite places in the world, Anvil Bar and Refuge. An oasis of good drinks and beer in the perpetual mugginess of Houston, Anvil just feels right. The new surprise this time though was a place called Grand Prize. For me it most notably came down to two things. The first is Underberg in the bar’s vending machine. I mean talk about nailing your target demographic, which is mostly restaurant and bar industry folks coming and hanging out. Besides the Underberg, there is a slushy regret machine which is filled each day with a classic cocktail and from which they dispense slushy non-regret.
I love that they’re taking back the frozen drink and making it good but still fun. Sitting on the patio, slushy beverage in hand, Texas is doing just fine by me.