Thursday, March 28, 2013

Austin Trip Report (Warning: Massive)

Recently, the entire city of Austin was bursting at the seams with technophiles, journalists, celebrities, and associated hangers-on.  It was for SXSW, a film/music/technology festival that brings the hordes to town every year and has every tech-savvy Austin resident posting a listing on

But Austin also has a huge reputation as a fun town.  It’s a city we’d heard a bunch about, and we decided to visit LAST weekend.  Not surprisingly, things were much cheaper than this week.

My wife was initially resistant to the idea of going to Austin, and she consistently wondered why I was so interested in going there.

It’s true that I’ve heard lots of good things about it, but almost all of those things were from people who hadn’t actually been there.  It seems like a city that just has a very good brand identity out there in the world.  Like Detroit, only the complete opposite.

The most frequently cited quality Austin brings to the table, from what I’ve heard, is a great live music scene.  I’d mention that to my wife, but then we’d both have the realization that neither of us are huge live music fans (I think the last concert we went to was James Taylor at Ravinia…no, we’re not 65 years old).

But I’d heard enough that we finally booked a trip down with some friends, my wife was eventually convinced when she remembered that she loves vacations, even just for a long weekend.

We flew in on Thursday night, and after grabbing dinner and checking into the W (Starwood naturally), we thought it would be a good idea to wander over to one of Austin’s famous food trucks.

I don’t know why or how, but Austin is a city with a restaurant industry based entirely in little trailers parked all around the area.  Usually in groups of 3-5, these trailers serve up all kinds of stuff that would amaze you if you’ve been underwhelmed by food trucks in the past.  I don’t know if it’s over-regulation of brick-and-mortar restaurants, lack of start-up funding, or relatively lenient health codes, but these guys love putting their culinary talents to work in motorhomes.

And these aren’t just regular hot dog trucks.  Everything had an above average fanciness quotient.  To the extent that each dish had at least one ingredient I didn’t recognize.  It was like every truck gave the impression of being on some Food Network reality show where people with tattooed arms and/or mustaches serve up weird and delicious things.

But before we knew all that, we had to hit our first one.

Since we had dinner, we were after dessert, and the Gourdough’s Specialty Doughnuts trailer called out to us.  So much so, that we walked the 1+ miles through the dark to go find it.

After quite a bit of wandering, we stumbled on to it, and were not disappointed.

Since it was dessert, it was obvious that my wife and I couldn’t share.  We have very strong and completely opposite philosophies when it comes to dessert.  She likes chocolate on top of chocolate, meanwhile I like anything but.  Usually it’s not an issue because I’m not a big dessert person, so I just go along with what she wants.  But given we walked all the way here, I wasn’t about to settle for some chocolate monstrosity.
The result was overkill.

The donuts (or doughnuts) were massive, the paper plates holding them buckled under the weight as we brought them to the table.

We wanted to eat them, but we needed to call for backup.  Knives and forks, napkins a plenty…
My wife got the Baby Rattler (pictured below) and I got the Son of a Peach. 

They were really large, and pretty delicious, although if I had to go back and get another one (and I considered it), I would’ve gotten one with a little less sugar involved (my wife may agree with me, as you may have inferred by the world’s largest gummy worm that came on hers).  My Son of the Peach was so sweet that my head nearly exploded, and I couldn’t even finish it.  Even after a long walk back to the hotel, I had trouble sleeping with what must’ve been a pound of sugar running through my veins.

But eventually, I did get to sleep.  I would need the rest.

Friday morning brought with it a bright sunny day and the promise of more food.

In addition to hearing about Austin’s live music scene, one of the other constant refrains we heard from those describing the city was its amazing barbeque.  And in looking into barbeque destinations in Austin, we kept hearing about two, Saltlick and Franklin’s.  One was a ways outside of town, the other one had a reputation for long lines.  

Our decision was made a little easier by the fact that why didn’t have access to car.  So Franklin’s it was.
The place itself was maybe a little over a mile from our hotel, up the hill towards the north, not far from the state capitol building (it apparently used to be in a food truck, but has since moved into more permanent space).  

The deal with Franklin’s is a little unusual.  They open at 11am, but once they sell out of their meat for the day, they close.  That tends to happen in the early afternoon.  So to make sure you get some, you show up super early to wait in line.  Some people bring chairs and sit outside to wait for them to open, as long as 2-3 hours before hand.

That’s a big investment of time for some barbeque.  

But it was a nice day, so why not?  

 Fortunately, we had some friends who managed to get out the door and up to Franklin’s early enough to avoid dreaded ‘Last Man’ status.  Last Man is literally the name they give to the guy/girl in line who will be the last person to get guaranteed meat from the barbeque.

Being the Last Man isn’t great, but being the Man After the Last Man puts you in a quandary.  You might get meat if you wait…but you might not. 

Thankfully, it wasn’t out problem, as we got ourselves up there and got in line with our friends (and we clarified, because I don’t like cutting, that ‘Last Man’ status is based on the staff asking how many are in your party whether or not they’re in line.  So we weren’t cheating)

We got in line, and began the waiting game.

We stood there for a while, enjoying the sunshine and the not-too-hot March sun.  As the hours began to pass, the one thing that kept me pretty under control was something a bit counterintuitive.

Despite the well-regarded barbeque mere feet away, I couldn’t smell it at all.  That’s what saved me, because after 2-3 hours I was certainly hungry but wasn’t seriously considering gnawing off my arm.  But only because I couldn’t smell it.

Of course, that all changed once we got far enough in line to actually get in the building.

That’s when the scent of brisket smoked for hours and hours finally starting hitting all of us.  That’s when the slight hunger bangs shot themselves up with HGH and became a full on barrage.

Within Franklin’s, you wait in an L-shaped line leading up to the counter where all the magic happens.  That’s where they’ll pull meat out and slice it right up for you.

But, as with any renowned BBQ joint, they prepare a bunch of stuff in advance, and once it’s gone, it’s done for the day.

So while we waiting in line, we heard rumblings.

“They’re out of ribs”

“I hope they still have pork”

And so on.

So the hunger was compounded with the anxiousness of potentially not getting something.  Despite the Last Man guarantee, that only means you’re guaranteed to get some kind of meat product (insert graphic joke here), but they don’t clarify which will be available.

While we were in the building, someone official (which in this case, means someone wearing the right T shirt), told us they were in fact out of ribs, and pulled pork, and turkey.

But good news, they still had their brisket (which is their most famous meat) and sausage.

So we were going to get something.  And we ended up getting a little turkey too, by being a bit creepy (not me, my wife).

While the four of us were waiting in line, we were standing maybe a foot or two from a table full of four girls with eyes way bigger than their stomachs.

The girls were sitting there, and it was clear they were tapped out and couldn’t eat any more.  They had ordered brisket, turkey, and some other stuff, and far too much of it.   That included a surplus of barbequed turkey.

As my wife stared at the table, the girls noticed and they started talking.  Somehow, a request was made for a taste of the turkey.

Now, if I were to approach a bunch of girls and ask to eat of their plate, I think the conversation may have gone a little differently.  But my wife and her friend are clearly a bit more charming, and we got to sample the turkey after all.

It ended up being a nice tiny appetizer for what became the main event.

When we got to the counter, we decided on what would serve as our breakfast, lunch, and part of dinner (for four people, remember).

-          2 pounds of brisket
-          4 sausage links
-          1 pint of potato salad
-          Smaller sides of beans and cole slaw

We thought that would be sufficient.  Oh, and we had pie.

It was great to watch the man behind the counter slice up our lunch.  The brisket quite nearly cut itself, it seemed soft and tender enough that it would break off just with a stern glare.  I don’t know whether his knife was sharp or if it was just a decorative piece of plastic and he was playing an elaborate joke.

But the meat slid easily, and he piled it nicely into a giant pile for us, with the man behind the counter gently guided onto a tray.  Then he pulled out a huge chain of sausage links and snapped a foursome off for us.
Just like that, a great big pile of meat.

We got our sides, and our utensils, and found a nice picnic table outside on the porch.

As we sat down, we didn’t immediately dig into the food.  Maybe part of it was personal reflection, maybe part of it was intimidation, but we didn’t just dig in as soon as it hit the table.

Of course we took a picture.

But then, once we started, we didn’t stop until it was ALL gone.  And we made it ALL gone.

Although they had multiple BBQ sauce options on the table, I thought the brisket didn’t need it.  The meat was soft, almost in a surreal way, because it just came apart as you forked it.  Almost like it didn’t want to be eaten.  But I was persistent, we all were.

Everything else about the meal was pretty delicious, but the brisket was definitely the centerpiece.
We savored each and every bite over the course of maybe 45 minutes, which was a bit funny in that we waited around 3 hours. 

But, for those of you going to Austin, yes, it’s worth it.

After an intense amount of barbeque, we thought the clear next step was a tour of the Texas Capitol building.  Nothing snaps you out of a food coma more than the intricacies of bicameral legislature.  The building itself is an impressive structure, and if not for its reddish-brownish coloring, would remind me exactly of the U.S. capitol building in D.C.

We walked into the building, trying hard to avoid what looked like student field trips.  As we entered the rotunda, I started to get into a really good mood.  Even after we saw the prominently hung portrait of George W. Bush, I still was really happy to be there.  The mood carried over as we wandered the halls of government, and I thought about why that could be the case.

Then it hit me.  Everything in the building, all the rooms, the chambers, the schedule of absurdly stupid-sounding committee meetings, it was like being on the set of Parks & Recreation!  Every room looked like one Leslie Knope should be planning an event in. I was expected Ron Swanson to walk by any minute. It was actually pretty cool.  Feeling good about real government because it reminds me of fake government, probably not what the Texas founding fathers intended (note: I think they intended to be an independent nation and to keep slavery)

But between all the good vibes, we also learned a lot about the Texas legislature.  That’s because we trespassed.

I’ll explain.

We had maps of the building itself for the self-guided tour.  As part of that tour, we went through the various halls of the building, and as we did, we walked by the offices of many Texas representatives/senators.
You could tell they were their offices, because they had their names written right outside the doors on little plaques.

Well, at one point, after passing another closed office door (they were all closed), my wife finally let curiosity get the best of her.

“I think you can just go in these…” she said as she approached one of the doors

“Are you serious?!?  Those are people’s offices, you can’t just go start opening doors and walking in”

“No I think it’s OK”

“Honey, this is Texas, everyone carries a gun and loves to shoot intruders!”

“I think you can just walk in, the door is open”

“No, the door might be unlocked but it’s sure as hell not open”

Of course as I said that, my wife was slowly opening the door of one Texas’s more conservative representatives.

I was already down the hall when I realized my wife had actually gone IN the office.

I went back to hear a very startled administrative assistant, as my wife sneaking in scared her (thank god she didn’t have her concealed weapon!)

The admin was a little confused, but welcomed us into the office.

The representative wasn’t there, she told us (it was Friday and he had gone home), but she was happy to let us in and let us look around.

I noticed a lot of wood molding, framed certificates, and more than a few bowls of candy (I refrained, seemed a little forward).

The admin explained a little bit about the legislature and the fact that it’s very rarely in session (apparently only 6 months of the year).  Another government employee had come into the office (assuming on some actual business), and explained that was one of the benefits of limited government.

I didn’t want to argue over the role of the government, but when we mentioned we were from Illinois I wondered what they may have been thinking (probably that they wish they had their concealed weapons).
But at the small cost of opening someone’s closed door and barging into their office, we got a nice lesson in Texas civics. 

After our lesson in state government, we weren’t exactly looking to go back to the hotel (and we still couldn’t eat), so we decided to take a short walk north to the University of Texas campus.

We walked around the campus for a little bit, but besides the occasional burnt orange hat, we didn’t really notice that we were at UT.  There were two exceptions:

One: At UT they have a fully stocked turtle pond.  Which is exactly what it sounds like. It was a small pond, maybe 30-40 feet around, chock full of turtles.  It was pretty awesome and made me jealous that we didn’t have one at Penn State (although the turtles would probably have frozen to death, sadly)

Two: The large UT bell tower was also prominent on the campus.  It also has a unique place in history from an incident in the 60’s when a nutjob shot dozens of people from up there.  That wasn’t as awesome as the turtle pond, obviously.

Since we were still trying hard to work off the BBQ, we walked all the way back to the hotel, where we hung out for a while before heading out again (for more food).

Much of our research, and recommendations from locals, pointed us towards a place called Eastside Kings.

It was a food truck, seemingly permanently parked, in the back of Liberty Bar, on East 6th street.

This was over on the east side of 6th avenue, which as it was explained to us, was an up-and-coming (and historically segregated) part of the city.  We walked over there, and the neighborhood definitely gave off the hipsterish vibe of early gentrification.  There were a bunch of bars, but also a bunch of abandoned lots.  Something of a scenic walk, but not all that scary (except for the bar which had a really active tuba player)
Once we found Liberty Bar, we entered to find, well, a normal looking dive bar.  But once we made our way through the back of the place, we stepped out into an outdoor patio area filled with long picnic tables.  At the back stood the food truck, with a long line of hungry customers waiting.

We soon joined them.  The food truck itself belonged to Paul Qui, who apparently is famous from a stint on Top Chef (note: I have no idea if this guy won or not, but that now appears to be a barometer of whether a restaurant is good or not.  So just being on the show at all seems to do it?  I’m still not clear on how that works)

But when we got the food, the high praise we certainly justified.  My wife and I got a bunch of different things, but their fried Brussels sprout salad was pretty awesome, as were their buns (mini sandwiches).

We found a spot at one of the picnic tables (after a decent wait and some good hovering efforts), and sat there for a while enjoying the food and the atmosphere.  It was a little chilly, but certainly balmy compared to the relative evenings in Chicago.

What did seem clear, at least to me, was that we were some of the least cool people there.  As I said, there were a good number of hipsters, young people, and young hipster people.  But everyone was pretty friendly, even if we didn’t have tattoos or mustaches.

We certainly took our time savoring the food (we also had to wait a good long while for it to be ready, and this is after we waited so long for our BBQ lunch), and had a bunch of drinks in the meantime.

Those drinks made it much easier to agree on our next location.  Ordinarily, I may have questioned going to a honkytonk bar.  But we were in Texas after all, and they reportedly had dancing, so how could it be a bad idea? 

Another bonus, the bar was maybe 100 feet from Liberty Bar.

The White Horse welcomed us in with open arms, and as we entered the large room we were met with a large crowd of mostly older (40 and up) folks, and a full rockabilly band practically overflowing from the tiny stage in the corner.

I’m calling them a rockabilly band because I think that’s the best descriptor.  They were definitely country, cowboy hats and all, but they also seemed to have more of a swing to them.  

We got some more drinks and headed to a relatively open spot near the stage, which also put us in close proximity to the dance floor.

Even though many of the dancers were clearly intoxicated, they had some pretty decent moves for older folks (although there were a few sloppy participants that reminded me of a pretty good rule of thumb, ‘You can be drunk on a dance floor, just don’t be the drunkest one out there’)

The band was pretty good, although I didn’t really appreciate them until the segued into a rendition of ‘Flowers on the Wall,’ which I only knew from Pulp Fiction, which I reminded my wife of, which reminded me that she’s never seen it, which reminded me that that annoys me.

But still, a rousing rendition, I was having a good time.

Then a younger guy asked my wife to dance.  It was pretty great, he was maybe in his mid-20’s, and as I recall (although it’s a little hazy) was dressed entirely in denim.  Oh, and he had a toothpick.

At first my wife demurred, but he was quite persistent (as those with toothpicks tend to be).  Finally with some encouragement from all of us, she accepted and they danced around for a song.  

For a guy wearing nothing but denim, he was a pretty good dancer.  Just not good enough to break up our marriage.

Once the band went into the next song, my wife came back for me, and we danced a little bit (holding our own, in my opinion, and not embarrassing ourselves).

We hung around until the band’s set was over.  At least that’s the last part of the bar I remember, before we went back out and caught a cab home.  It’s possible we hit another food truck in there somewhere, but I doubt it, I feel like I would’ve remembered that.

The next day, Saturday, began with grand ambitions.  Our agenda included more food (of course), but also a more active excursion.  We were going to rent bikes and ride around some of the scenic outdoorsy areas of the city.

But first, we had to try breakfast tacos.

I don’t know if it’s a thing everywhere, but when my wife heard about the concept of a breakfast taco, she was extremely intrigued.  Intrigued to the point where it was clear we were going to find some breakfast tacos or we weren’t going anywhere.

Fortunately there was a coffee shop just a block or two away that offered them.  I’m not so sure what kind of surprise we were expecting.  A breakfast taco is just breakfast stuff (eggs, cheese, etc.) on a tortilla.  I think my wife was just so excited because she loves things wrapped in tortillas (see also, her unusual love of wraps, which I think are just worse versions of sandwiches).

We scarfed down a couple without thinking of the consequences (who doesn’t go bike riding on a full stomach of tacos?) and then made our way to a nearby bike shop.

The shop itself was larger than I would’ve guessed but had all kinds of fancy biking equipment that I couldn’t possibly understand.  I also learned that it was a shop owned by Lance Armstrong (who is from Austin, or lives in Austin, or something).  But unlike the rest of the outside world, this place didn’t seem to have any inkling of PED revelations.  Armstrong jerseys hung on the wall, autographed, as if the wall was a time capsule from back before people had completely lost their respect for him.

I didn’t particularly care either way, this was the place they told me we could rent bikes.

And rent them we did.

We all got outfitted with their bikes and helmets, and because my bike was the only one without other equipment/bolts in the way, I got to be the one to have the big basket on the front.  We needed the basket to carry our stuff, or rather, we needed it to hold at least one giant purse.

Yes, I was going to be riding around all day with a giant purse in my bike’s large basket.  That was going to be fun.

Now, when the idea of renting bikes was brought up, I was happy to go along.  I felt that way because I had a very specific rationale.  You see, I hadn’t ridden a bike in about 20 years (I don’t remember ever riding one after my bar mitzvah, and certainly didn’t ride one after I got my driver’s license).  The lack of recent experience would’ve made me nervous, except I kept remembering that traditional axiom.

It’s just like riding a bike.

Riding a bike was so ingrained on those who have learned, that it was the universal example for things you can’t forget how to do.

How could I forget how to ride a bike, I kept asking myself, isn’t it just like riding a bike???

That was the cyclical justification that got me on the bike.  It didn’t take long for me to realize that it wasn’t exactly true.

Balancing on a bike, sure.

Riding a bike in a straight line on a flat surface, not an issue.

Tight turns while going down hill…not so much.

Our ride took us through some of the streets of downtown Austin, as we had to go around in some circles to find exactly where we were headed.  The goal was to avoid major streets and traffic, and thus keep me alive.
My wife and friends didn’t have a problem with the bikes, so I was generally bringing up the rear (with purse mind you)

I just seemed to have some trouble getting my brain to tell my body what to do in time to actually get the bike to do what it was supposed to do.

Most of the time it wasn’t a problem, but as we got into the park areas, and as foot traffic got dense, and as the pathways got narrower, I became something of a moving hazard.

Multiple times, I had to gracefully dismount to narrowly avoid other people as I was making a turn.  And by gracefully, I mean laced with profanity. (Note: A day or so after our ride, I found the only reminder of my many dismounts…I deep bruise the size of a golf ball on the inside of my leg. For the record, no injuries snowboarding or rock climbing, but visible bruise from riding a bike)

For the most part, I managed to miss all the passersby.  All except one, a jogger on a very narrow bridge.  I’d say I grazed him.  He’ll live.

We rode around the park and lakes in downtown Austin, pausing every now and again to check out some sights (or so the group could wait for me to catch up).  We found a nice spot next to the water that had a great view of the skyline.  Like Friday, the weather was pretty great, and it was a really good ride (except for, of course, my inability to ride a bike)  

As we kept riding, we debated what to do next.  The bike shop was under the impression we were just taking their rides out for a couple hours (let’s face it, we didn’t look like intense riders), but we were also thinking of what else we could do during the day.

We realized that we had a lot of food trucks we hadn’t visited yet, only now we had some actual transportation.  We could really do some damage.

So we sketched out a basic plan.  

Step One: Ride our bikes to food trucks

Step Two: Eat at said food trucks

Step Three: Repeat Step One

With so many trucks in Austin, we had our work cut out for us.

We were planning on making our first stop at a set of food trucks that included the giant donut place from earlier that weekend, but on our way there we came across a Whataburger.  Now, Whataburger is far from a food truck, it’s an established fast food burger chain with tons of locations across the country.

However…I’d never been to one.  And as someone who’s actively crossing names off a list of the top 100 chain restaurants, I couldn’t let the opportunity pass by.

So I made the group stop, and before we started eating, we all shared a burger and fries. (my quick take on Whataburger – surprisingly large burger for your money, with fries that are the absolute closest thing to McDonald’s fries I’ve ever seen.  And that’s not a compliment I issue lightly)

With a fine foundation of hamburger, we set out to find more food…the following few hours were a bit of a blur as we hit truck after truck after truck.  My memory is a little hazy, but here’s my recollection of what my wife and I ate during our afternoon food truck tour.

One lobster roll sandwich
Two tacos (I believe one was fish and one may have been vegetable)
Fried chicken
Truffle Mac & Cheese
6 Cake balls
1 giant chocolate milkshake-like dessert thing

Grand total, about 70 bazillion calories.  But we were riding bikes, so it was totally fine.

I will be honest, I think we all felt absolutely terrible, like our bodies were sick of such shoddy treatment and were about to engage in an open rebellion.

But no one got sick, the rebellion was quelled with zero casualties, and we triumphantly returned our bikes to the shop and went back to the hotel for some much needed sitting down.

After a decent break, we determined that 70 bazillion calories hadn’t been enough, and we’d need more food before the day was over.  But the sheer limits of our stomach capacity wouldn’t let us eat right away, so we made a plan to check out some more of Austin’s live music scene in the Red River area at a bar called Club Deville.

Club Deville was set up a bit like the Red Rocks amphitheater, an outdoor space stretched far beyond the small building which housed the bar and led right up to a tall rock face.  At the base of the rock wall was the stage, where a rock band was playing when we arrived.

The band, whose name escapes me, was pretty decent.  Although we were early enough in the evening that the crowd was sparse, and seemed to include people who actually knew the band personally and us.

But that wasn’t really an issue.  We were just there to have a good time, and even as the temperature dipped and the night started to get cooler, we sat an enjoyed the less than crowded scene in front of us.

The band finished its set, and we started wondering whether we should head off for a pre-dinner drink, or enjoy more of the music.

It only took a few minutes of the next band, with a singer who was so into his own voice he couldn’t open his eyes, that we knew we weren’t going to miss much.  We made our way to the exit and went over to Rainey St., another popular stretch of Austin.

Once we got down there, we were struck by the unusual stretch of bars and restaurants that spilled out in front of us.  Rather than the traditional storefronts, there were houses, or what looked like residential housing all down the street.  But instead of a quiet neighborhood, the narrow street was packed with cars and revelers, with each house stuffed to the rafters with customers.

It was like a neighborhood where everyone was having a party, or a frat row in a college town (though the crowd seemed older than typical college types.  I didn’t hear ‘Hook ‘Em’ once the entire time).

We found a bar (apparently one that had been open less than a week), and sampled its extensive beer list for pre-dinner drinks.  Afterward we went over to El Naranjo, a Mexican restaurant (though NOT Tex-Mex, which everyone clearly felt was substantially different from traditional Mexican).

The food was really good (echoing the theme of the day), although it was a little strange to get served by a waiter and not from a mysterious arm dangling out of a trailer window.

After an enjoyable meal (and sitting at the table long enough for all the other customers to leave), we finally departed and promptly returned to the bar.  Another round later and we were good and primed for bed.  It may have taken us a little while to catch a cab in that part of town, but that only added to our enthusiasm to get to sleep.

The next day was a bit of a downer, only because we knew we’d have to leave Austin and return to Chicago (the only one happy about that would be my cardiologist)

But our flight wasn’t until the afternoon, so we still had some time for a few last quick bites!

It was a Sunday, so brunch was on the agenda.  And from what we had heard, the South Congress Café (on South Congress St., obviously) was the place to go for brunch.  So we put on our walking shoes and hiked over there (fortunately, we had completed the biking legs of our trip).

Of course, we got a curveball in the form of an hour wait for a table.

Undeterred, we thought it would be the best use of our time to walk down South Congress and window shop along the main drag.  It was on that walk that we noticed Hopleaf, a well-regarded Austin burger joint, was about to open for business.

Now, it’s not exactly conventional wisdom to have a hamburger before brunch.  And suffice it to say, our wives weren’t exactly thrilled with the idea, but it was too good of an opportunity to pass up.

While our wives did whatever it was they were doing, we followed the small group of people who had been waiting for Hopleaf to open through the doors and right into the burger line.  I was really impressed by their operation.  No one sits at a table until you’ve ordered, and you’re issued a table number by the staff, so they control when people sit etc.  It was an extremely efficient operation (I wondered if Hopleaf was German).

As our wives called us to monitor our activity, we implored them to join us in morning burger festivities.  And after we had ordered and been seated, they found us. 

It would be an understatement to say they weren’t thrilled with us, even after I assured them I could still eat a full brunch.  The small sample of burger they took was purely perfunctory.  They seemed to will themselves to not enjoy it at all (which was fine by me, I don’t much like sharing anyway).

We set a U.S. speed record for hamburger chomping, because we got a notification that our table for brunch was ready.  We ate so fast, that I’m quite confident we were the first ones to leave the restaurant after being served that day.

At South Congress Café, we ended up having to wait for a table (which gave us a little more digestion time), but I was glad to see that one of their signature items was more of a dessert brunch.  To better accompany my hamburger appetizer.

The carrot cake French toast was in order, and yes, it was as delicious as it sounds.

Following the brunch, we again walked ourselves (or was it rolled ourselves) up and down South Congress Street.  The weather gods were on our side again, and we soaked up as much sun as possible with the knowledge that we’d soon be returning to gray, gloomy Chicago.

After some light shopping (and what seemed like an unreasonable stop for ice cream), we got back to the hotel and packed for the airport.

Surely, we could rest comfortably knowing that no matter who else spent a long weekend in Austin, they couldn’t possibly have gained as much weight as we did!


Francis Buxton said...

If you find somebody to actually read this entire thing more power to ya! If you can even find someone who actually reads half of it more power to ya!

Anonymous said...

I read the whole thing and it was hilarious. Great writing. I live in San Antonio (for the past 13 years) and have not spent much time in Austin so I will use your trip as a reference.