I've been tagged to do a restaurant list thingie. She's listing all the things she loves about Austin on her one-year anniversary here, and it's no secret that Austinites do love them some eatin' out. It's probably my curmudgeonry, but I'm not so sure about this taggin' business. Smells a little like chain-emails, and I do my best to break the chain whenever the opportunity arises. And it's probably my curmudgeonry and my pathological cheapness, but I'm just not the restaurant whore I'm supposed to be in this town.
I find these three facts about Austin irreconcilable:
1. Austinites love to eat out at heavily-trafficked restaurants during the peak restauranting hours.
2. Austin does not have a robust public transportation system.
3. Heavily-trafficked restaurants in Austin are required by city ordinance to have no parking. Parking lots are absolutely against the Austin restaurant-going credo.
So my restaurant list is probably a disappointment. When I was younger and tried harder to care about being a hep cat, I responded to a particular friend's repeated efforts to get me to come out to Z-Tejas and Shady Grove and Kerby Lane and Trudy's and Magnolia and Mother's and Hyde Park Grille and Chuy's and Katz's at 8:00 p.m. on Friday and Saturday nights. He had a similar liking for live music venues at midnight on Friday and Saturday nights. At first I tried to smile as I drove around and around the block. But more and more I started grinding my teeth and boiling my stomach acid. I tried to chat and enjoy myself as I waited by the bar, but more and more I resented saying, "WHAT??" through every conversation, and "Excuse me," to the folks who walked into me and spilled my $8 beverage on my shoes. It just didn't seem worth it.
So in proper curmudgeon fashion, I prefer dining out at 6:00 p.m. on Wednesday at large, empty, suburban chain restaurants with parking lots. Though I stop just short of Luby's. Usually.
But, to try to participate in the spirit of the thingie with which I was tagged:
1. Hickory Street. I sometimes order off the menu, but usually for me it's like a fresher, higher quality Souper Salad with more variety and $2 draft Shiners. No parking, though.
2. Shady Grove. Hippie Chick Sandwiches, and it has a parking lot. The lot never has any empty spaces in it, though.
3. Kerby Lane. Greek Chicken. Mrs. Rodius and I had a favorite local deli in Everett, MA that had the greatest greek chicken salads we'd ever eaten. When we moved to Austin, we despaired at finding tabouleh, feta, and kalamata olives effectively deployed ever again in this Tex-Mex jungle. The original by 35th Street has no parking. The one on South Lamar is a little better, but now that we're Northies, we've discovered the one on 183 that's got an actual parking lot and even usually has an empty space or two. And draft beer specials, and 24-hour pancakes. But the service hasn't always been attentive. I have to admit, though, that Punk Rock Girl Shaved to Look Like Radiation Accident Refugee is pretty distracting to watch as you wait for your server to never bring you your dessert.
4. Chipotle. I have to agree with MTAMM on this one. I heard something about it being owned by McDonald's or something like that, but I don't care. It's that good. Chango's is a good variation on the theme, and may be more local, I don't know. There's at least two of them. But they've even got jugs of sangria. I tried my best to to like Chango's even more than McPotle, but there isn't one anywhere near where I live. There's one near where I work, but guess what? It doesn't have any parking.
5. Dandelion. Close to where I work, and sporting a unique, light, fresh menu that makes it perfect for workday lunches. Last time I was there, I had the cold, minted pea soup and the veggie sandwich with pesto mayo. Nearly orgasmic, as was everything else I've eaten there. Three down-sides, though: no parking; $12 lunch bill for one person; last time I was there, it was changing owners and becoming Blue Dahlia. Though I have to admit, the Blue Dahlia menu did look intriguing.
So there you go. Sorry, I don't really have anyone to tag. And even if I did, I'm breaking the chain, baby!
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