A few weeks ago, we closed the restaurant for maintenance, general repairs and my partners’ annual trip to Burning Man. In my infinite wisdom, I decided to take a bit of a break from my beloved city to explore the hill country of Texas.
This post was going to enthrall you dear readers with a grand tale of yours truly battling with a 72 ounce steak with all of the accoutrements. Alas, that post will have to wait until another day. In my aforementioned, nee legendary wisdom, I failed to realize that the “Steak Challenge” was nowhere near where I was headed. C’est la vie.
We headed to Austin on the last day of our trip due to familial obligations and a day at the Schlitterbahn. It’s a waterpark. Don’t judge me. I am still a Toys R Us kid.
After hitting a record store, we headed to 6th street to find East Side King, Paul Qui’s street food truck(s). They don’t open until 5 PM. Way to go wisdom. Undaunted and ravenous, we zigzagged a few blocks down and happened upon a corner lot ringed in chicken wire and broken pallets with an ATM on the “fence”. Inside there were 8 or so food trucks of varying shapes and sizes. We ate at each of the trucks, and gorged ourselves on surprisingly good pizza, amazing guacamole, and deep fried Oreos that were like little clouds dropped from Heaven directly into my gaping maw.
Before leaving for Texas, I read an article on Zagat about hot food neighborhoods. The Bywater, in which our restaurant is located, was one. Another was South Lamar in Austin. I figured this would be a great place to focus on while I was checking out the dining scene there.
That evening, using the article as a rough guide, we started out at Barley Swine. The fact that it’s located in an unassuming strip mall belies what awaits when you enter the beautifully well done interior. The servers were all very knowledgeable about the characteristics of every beer and wine on the menu, as well as the dishes coming out of the kitchen. It is extremely refreshing to have the person serving you capable of telling you exactly what is in every dish as they present it to the table. The food was delicious, well executed, and complex with balanced flavors. We exited impressed, but still hungry. Luckily, we had our next stop planned.
Our next foray into Austin’s wealth of dining options was Uchi, a traditional Japanese restaurant from Tyson Cole. I can’t say enough about how great this restaurant is. Everything, from the food to the service, to the riverstone laden courtyard was impeccable. I honestly can’t tell you exactly what I ate, due to the sensory overload (and sake) that blew me away. The yellowtail with ponzu, thai chili, and orange supreme was sublime. It was so delicate and well-balanced that it was one of those perfect bites, over and over. The brussel sprouts were, well, I might have to steal that one, so the less said, the better. The Bacon Steakie was stupidly good. Yes, stupidly can be a good thing, as it is in this case.
We finished off the day at East Side King, finally. I sauntered up to the truck which lives behind the Liberty Bar, looked at the menu and said, “Yes”. After ordering one of everything and grabbing a beer, we tucked into the soul of Austin’s street food. Pork belly buns, tongue buns, beet “home fries”, and peanut butter curry buns. So simple and honest, not to mention close to my little, black, jaded heart, it was the perfect end to an amazing, if not gluttonous day.
I can’t wait to go back and do it all again.