While Austin might be one of the nicer cities in Texas. I don’t think I’d ever move there based upon nature’s aesthetics, but the food is a different story. We took a road trip to Austin for our ‘Best Friends Wedding’, no pun intended. And fell in love with all of it’s culinary offerings along the way. First, in a moment of desperation and lack of another food stop for 30 miles. We pulled into a Whataburger and Man! That was a bad choice. We heard that these are relatively popular but didn’t catch the appeal. It was flavorless and unnecessarily over-sized and over-priced for it’s quality. But whatchagonnado?
What road trip would be complete without a snack on the way? I consulted with the wife and it was unanimous! Mainly because I insisted, but puppy chow was the winner. This is one of my favorite childhood snacks and the moment I pop it in my mouth, it’s an instant trip down memory lane. The days when the only thing you had to worry about was someone saving you a seat in the cafeteria. And praying to God that mom had packed a fruit roll-up! You’re family is sure to love this recipe and you should make it, even if you don’t have kids.
2 c. Honey Nut Chex Cereal
1 c. M&Ms (I prefer Peanut Butter)
1/2 c. mixed nuts
1/2 c. powdered sugar
1/2 c. chocolate chips
1/4 c. peanut butter
1 T. unsalted butter
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1. first, place chocolate in microwave for 20 second intervals until completely melted. Place peanut butter and butter in a bowl and heat in 15 second intervals while stirring between until smooth and combined.
2. put dry cereal in paper brown bag and pour chocolate and peanut butter mixture over cereal in even layer. Be careful not to waste any good stuff on the bag. That would be a shame. fold down the bag and give a vigorous shake for 30 seconds. Then add powdered sugar and shake for another minute. Once mixture is evenly covered place on to sheet pan and allow to air dry for 15-20 min. Evenly distribute candy and nuts over mixture, then place into air tight container. Chow is good for up to one week. Enjoy!
Luckily, our friend stayed in an apartment complex relatively local to some great eats! We made a couple of trips to this awesome Mexican bakery that was on a couple of blocks away. The aroma of cinnamon and sugar with a bit of spice was heavenly. There were desserts such as arroz con leche, a rice custard with cinnamon and raisins. There were polvorons, cinnamon shortbread covered in sugar. Not too mention these delicious little pigs called marranitos, which are molasses cookies, so good. And I’m not typically a fan of molasses because it has such a pungent flavor but in these cookies the ingredient was mild enough that I could enjoy more than one. We usually left with a couple of bags because the prices were incredibly cheap for the artisan pastries we devoured.
I can’t say enough good things about Gourdough’s! Those freakin’ stuffed donuts were the highlight of the trip. And if the fact that we took three visits to have those fluffed pillows of sweet and savory perfection isn’t enough to validate them. Then, you’ll have to try them yourself. The playful menu provides you with plenty of options from elementary nostalgia, the peanut butter and jelly, to the hungover variety in the mother clucker and slow burn. We dined on the dirty berry, pb & j, funky monkey, and mama’s cake all delicious in their own right.
If you just happen to visit this nostalgic streamline trailer, just know they have recently opened a brick and mortar location as well. Don’t let the long lines deter you, you deserve one of these.
The Salt Lick came highly regarded by some friends and so we tried this Austin institution and well, it wasn’t bad. But I simply can’t tell you that it’s better than Franklin’s and we’ll get around to that later. The Salt Lick had the ambience to make you feel as though you’d been herding cattle through the desert and you deserved a rest for a bite to eat. The restaurant is filled is with western paraphernalia, long wooden picnic tables and a open bbq pit that leads you to salivate uncontrollably. A bevy of hanging smoked sausage, slabs of ribs dripping with sauce and chicken just itching to get on your plate.
I have to give it to the The Salt Lick, while I wasn’t a fan of the sides, a plebeian selection of beans, slaw and freakishly weird potato salad. The meat was quite delicious. The ribs were tender and juicy, and the chicken was cooked to moist perfection. But I’ll know next time to just stick with the ribs and sausage.
Now,on to the piece de’ resistance! Franklin’s BBQ is an Austin, TX institution of BBQ Amazingness! They’ve been featured on everything from No Reservations to the New York Times and Bon Apetite. I was a little hesitant at first thinking to myself. “What kind of BBQ is worth getting up at the crack of dawn for?” Well, my question was answered, and it’s none other than Franklin’s my friend. The friendly staff allowed me to come in early for some pre-chaos photos. I was also able to speak with those who scheduled carry-out orders 2 months in advance. Believe It or Not?
Well, I figured I might as well try it all. And I did. I got the combo plate and a few samples of the other items. Ribs, Brisket, Sausage, and Turkey. all ridiculously tender and full of flavor. I didn’t even remember standing in line for two and a half hours like an adolescent teen getting Taylor Swift concert tickets.
There’s nothing fussy about the way they do things at Franklin’s bbq. As you can see the menu options are displayed upon butcher paper with electrical tape posting it up. A sign to me that this could go one of two ways and well they chose the better option. I apologize for not having a photo, but you know what happened?!
Only a couple of blocks from the casa was a local favorite by the name of Mellizoz Tacos. A trailer parked beneath a couple of oak trees. These tacos were simplistic Mexican fare done to a level of excellence. We ate here twice in one day. Their tacos and entrees only ranging from $2.25 to $6.00. It was a steal and we left full, always a plus in my book.
fried avocado (middle), a combination of tempura battered avocado, arugula, chipotle sherry vinaigrette, cotija & tomato.
shroom (back) sauteed portabella, caramelized onions, spinach, tomato, chipotle aioli and the wife added guacamole. (She’s addicted)
Every taco so vastly different in flavor and pleasing to the palate. That it warranted two visits in one day! Now, does it give our Mas Tacos Por Favor a run for their money? No!, but it’s a close runner up.
Summermoon was a hole in the wall coffee shop we discovered on the way back from Mellizoz Tacos. An adorable quaint coffee shop nestled between some office buildings, and adorned in the ever so popular reclaimed wood and edison lights. The perfect place to enjoy your Gourdough doughnut with an awesome cup of wood fired coffee. Yes! wood fired. They roast their beans by hand in a brick oven, over a mesquite fire, using sight, sound, and smell to consistently offer their customers a unique and superior coffee experience. It was delicious and if that wasn’t enough, they offered this wonderful 7 blend milk that would make someone lactose intolerant take the risk. It’s so good! You’ll want to purchase a gallon to take home, but I don’t think it’s for sale.
Caffe Medici is another cool place to enjoy your java in downtown Austin. Beautifully decor-ed and encouraging you to stay for a while as you enjoy your high-quality french press coffee. Though the coffee was rather pricey, it was worth every penny when noted the care that was being put into it by our barista.
Caffe Medici’s coffee is a blend conjured by none other than Cuvee. A roaster dedicated to sustainable, artisan blend, located in the Hills of Texas outside of Austin. The coffee was fruity and chocolate which I love, it ended with a smooth finish. Not the typical cup you’d slurp down for your caffeine fix.
Torchy’s Tacos is a local institution and came highly recommended by the locals. So we’d be re-missed to not check it out. I mean, it’s the place where all the cool kids go. We ordered the Brush Fire, a marry of Jamaican Jerk Chicken, grilled jalapenos, mango, sour cream cilantro with their Diablo sauce. The more you eat it, you begin to get the slow build of heat and all of those flavors just meld together so well.
The Mr. Orange came highly regarded by those who recommended Torchy’s but of course they were sold out and I was highly upset. I never pass up a good salmon taco, don’t judge me, they’re delicious. And the worst part is; it was only freaking two o’clock! But any who everything else we ordered was just as tasty, but don’t get me wrong, it’s not the authentic stuff but the best Americanized Tex-Mex you’ll probably find!
And last but not least! Who doesn’t love a good Macarena? The best thing about weddings is that it’s a night when all inhibitions are thrown to the wind and you can enjoy yourself. No reliving the days of standing in the corner at prom or those college parties where everyone else was dancing but you.
….Well, actually that wasn’t my life but you know what I mean?!