By Maggie -- May 22, 2014
"Texas Loves Texas"
This is a saying that we made up while we were in Austin. While in Texas, we have noticed one thing about it's residents. They love where they live, and they want everyone to know it. The Texas state flag is everywhere. "Lone Star" is the name of a beer, a bar, several shopping centers, streets, auto dealerships, etc. Everything is named after something related to Texas. It's not uncommon to have Texas flags draping down off of your porch and flying behind your truck. Why doesn't California have so much love for itself? We'll have to think that one over and get back to you.
In Austin, we stayed with my cousin Miranda at her place on the North side. We parked Donna out on the street and left her there for the weekend while we flew to Portland for the wedding. Miranda had an agenda for us each day, which was convenient and helpful, as we had no plans whatsoever other than "Eat BBQ". I can't even believe it but we managed to go to all of the following establishments in the course of 4 1/2 days:
-Amy's Ice Cream
-Sam's Town Point
-Legendary White Swan
-Brew & Brew
-Canoed on Lady Bird Lake
-Swam at Barton Springs
-Vintage shopping on South Congress
-Two step dancing at Broken Spoke, White Horse and Sam's
Needless to say we are not planning on spending money on meals any time soon, other than in New Orleans next weekend (I mean we have to....right?). How we ate that many meals and drank that many beers in a little over 4 days I cannot tell you. That's just the lifestyle in Austin - eat, drink, eat, eat, drink - and they all manage to stay thin and healthy-looking and surprisingly sober.
After talking with several locals it's clear that Austin has had a huge boom in the past 2-5 years with jobs and money coming into the city. Rush hour traffic on highway 35 almost rivals the 405 Northbound through Sepulveda Pass. Porsches and Range Rovers are very common. It's easy to see why people love Austin, but it's also easy to feel that the city is becoming a bit suffocated with the amount of new residents and the construction of hundreds of new town homes, lofts, and apartments. People started catching on to a good thing, and it's apparent in several parts of town.
Queso. It's a short word but it says so much. What is it? Cheese, clearly, but it's a special, evil cheese that you dip chips and tortillas in instead of salsa. And it's jammed packed with sin. We had queso three different times at three different places, but I would not call us connoisseurs... We still have a lot to learn and discover when it comes to this stringy, melty appetizer. Texas loves all of the feel-good things in life, and indulging is just like mowing the lawn and driving to work - you just gotta do it if you gotta do it. So if queso was on the menu, you better believe we ordered it. When in Rome, as they say.
Rainey street was our final nighttime stop of our stay in Austin. It's a small street no more than 2 city blocks and it's lined with homes that are all converted into speakeasy's and bars with custom cocktails. We had a great time just walking up and down the street and walking into a bar to see how they decorated it. We decided that if Rainey street came to LA, the magic would be lost. Cool streets like Rainey Street are only cool because they exist in Texas.
And so, tomorrow we're off to see other parts of this big, drunken state, as we make our way closer to zydeco and crawfish boils. Texas loves Texas and we do too.