Tuesday, June 24, 2014

5 Things to Eat in Austin

Texas - southwest, Tex/Mex cuisine. That's easy. So I won't even go into why this is the food of choice while in Texas, I'll just share a few bites of my food while in Austin for a few days.

I had tacos, chips & salsa, tacos, rice and black beans for two meals, two different restaurants, they were both good.

First, I went to Guero's on South Congress Ave. - a short walk right down the street from Allen's Boots, where I picked up a pair of cowboy boots!  These few blocks on South Congress Ave. are an interesting shopping area, not too far from downtown, a $6-7 cab-ride from the Convention Center.  There are some unique shops - jewelry, antiques, vintage clothing. Nice for window shopping, and if you're in the mood to do actual shopping, it's a good variety.  But, back to the food.

I got chips and salsa - the green pepper-y salsa is not for the lightweights. It is spicy, but delicious.  I also had fish tacos; with bites of tilapia, the tacos were filled with a crunchy mix of cabbage and an option of flour (my choice) or corn tortillas.  The fish was seasoned really well, a nice flavorful taste.

My other meal was at Iron Cactus on Sixth Street.  Originally Pecan Street, named for a native nut as most of the parallel streets were named when the streets were first mapped out, its a quaint stretch of shops and restaurants by day and the "Dirty Six" as one of the shop cashier's said that locals refer to it on weekend nights.  We did walk a few blocks on Saturday night and it is a walking party, which I knew I was too old for!  The salsa I preferred here was a fire-roasted tomato salsa that's served warm - spicy and delicious.  I had shrimp tacos with grilled tortillas; this grilling added a kick of flavor.  But really what set this meal off was the black beans. Usually, you get the beans and rice as the normal side and it's as good as expected. Not sure what exactly they did to these black beans but they were really really good, flavorful, a little spicy, but not real hot.  These beans and rice would be enough of a meal.

With my meals of course I had to have some liquid refreshment.  At the Iron Cactus I had the Blood Red Orange Margarita. It had just enough tartness from the lime, but a balance of sweet.  I would've taken one with me for the flight home if they had to-go cups.

During my street wandering, I came upon a tamale stand at a farmer's market.  First time I've had a tamale and when I opened it, I thought, "okay, what do I do with this corn husk?"  So I figured out that you don't eat it, luckily the woman at the stand had put a fork in my bag.  I had the vegetarian tamale, topped it with this very very hot pepper salsa (see a theme here?) and it was a good, filling lunch.

During my walk on South Congress, I spotted a food truck, something Austin is apparently famous for. They were all over the city with every food option - burgers, Jamaican, Thai, crepes, tacos. And Hey, Cupcake! (That was the name of the truck - cute, right?)  I got Chocolate, Red Velvet, and "Michael Jackson" (chocolate cupcake with vanilla icing - I know, you don't want to laugh!) cupcakes.  They were dense, but moist - kinda hard to do. And I am a critic of red velvet because these often are not moist enough - this one was good. The cream cheese icing, however, had a little tartness to it - I couldn't really figure out what it was, maybe some lemon or something? It wasn't bad, just not as sweet as I make mine.  And the chocolate - it lasted the flight home and until the next day - still good.

I got my southwest, Tex-Mex fill - peppery and tasty, along with a side of sweetness. Pretty good eaten' for my couple of days in Texas.

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