Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Eating in Austin

After having our sampling of our favorite Texas chain fast food restaurants (Whataburger and Cracker Barrell) as well as getting some authentic Lockhart, TX barbecue at Black's, we wanted to check out some more of the food scene in/around Weird Austin.

Of course, no hipster town is complete without an area for mobile food trucks serving overpriced dishes with odd ethnic flavor combinations. So we drove down to the South Congress neighborhood on Friday afternoon.

Unsure of where to go, we looked up our options on Yelp and found one of the South Congress food trucks aptly named, "Hey! You Gonna Eat or What?" It had a lot of positive reviews, so we head in that direction. It was located down a side street off Congress, lined up with two other food trucks beside a weekend flea market. Hey!'s truck was the only one with a line, so we made the assumption it was a better option than the others (Jamaican and Mexican) which were empty.

We decided to wait in the line (I felt like SUCH a tourist) which was moving at a incredibly slow Texas pace (it definitely wasn't Manhattan lunch rush hour). Unfortunately, Hey!'s $10 signature dish Monte Cristo wasn't worth the 45 minute wait in line and the 10 minute wait after ordering, but as a result, we ended up eating a later (3PM) lunch than we planned.

So with a few hours to kill before dinner, we decided to drive down to Salt Lick BBQ in the town of Driftwood where we heard the venue's ambiance was pure Texas. My new friend Avery's parents were Austin locals, and they warned us that the barbecue at Salt Lick wasn't that great (and it was cash only), but that we should still go for the local vibe (outdoor picnic table seating, Christmas tree lights at dusk, and BYOB). It was quite a drive out to the Driftwood boonies from South Congress, but we eventually made it as the sun was starting to set.



Despite not ordering any food, we hung out at Salt Lick (B) for a little bit to enjoy the setting (especially after making the trip down from Austin. But soon, my mother's allergies were really bothering her, so we decided to start the drive back towards Austin and our hotel (C).

We had hoped to go to LA Barbecue on South 1st Street in East Austin (downtown), but like many true barbecue places, the meat usually runs out in the early afternoon, so they weren't open past 3PM that day.

So disappointed, we started to head back to our hotel, when my father remembered that another BBQ place that Avery's parents told us about was Rudy's. Luckily for us, there was a Rudy's just a few miles from our hotel, so after calling to confirm they were open til 10PM, we went there.

Interestingly, Rudy's fashions itself as a "convenience store" similar to the ones you'd find attached to a gas station selling cigarettes, soft drinks and salty snacks. In fact, out in front, you had working gas pumps to fill up your car with.

But going inside, it was anything but a traditional gas station. While they did have a snack section with a register, your eyes were drawn to the long line of people waiting to place their order for some great barbecue brisket, turkey and pork ribs. As you snaked around the room, you walked past a full cooler of ice cold sodas and beers.

When we made it to the front of the line, the super friendly cashier asked if it was our first time at Rudy's. I suppose my Korean-Uzbek/Russian family did look quite out of place, but not in a bad way. When my father said it was his first time, the cashier said something to the staff and they all screamed a hearty welcome for us. Then the cashier brought out small bite size samplers for us to try before we ordered. My father had always been accustomed to the New York City pace of ordering food (think Katz' Deli), so he was taken aback by the amount of time we were afforded to even place our order!

We each sampled a bite size of brisket lean, brisket moist and turkey. While we had already planned to go with a 1/2 pound of brisket moist, the barbecue turkey was surprisingly amazing. My parents never really thought about ordering turkey, but after this deliciously moist turkey sample, we just had to get another 1/4 pound more. Then we topped it off with a jalepeno pork sausage followed by sides of potato salad and cole slaw. And to wash it all down, a nice ice cold bottle of Shiner Bock (a local Texas brew) and IBC Cherry Limeade.


We couldn't wait to find our seats in the massive dining area around the corner and began to devour our final dinner in Texas. And if you haven't heard something adorable lately, just imagine a little smiling 2 year old girl saying "de-lic-ious" in her cutest toddler voice as she ate.

Hey! You Gonna Eat or What?
1318 South Congress Avenue
Austin TX 78704

Salt Lick BBQ
18300 FM 1826
Driftwood, TX 78619

Rudy's "Country Store" & BBQ
11570 Research Blvd
Austin, TX 78759

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