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For the Blue Spot In a Red State; Austin, Texas: “Austin Eats”

Well, you know one post about food wasn't gonna cut it. 

So now we need to cover food on a more basic level.

When it comes to Austin eats there are several names that are going to be thrown out at you. Franklin Barbecue is one. However they do not take reservations and a typical wait time is anywhere between two and three hours. That is does not fit in my wheel house. I had a recommendation to try to Cooper’s Old Time Pit Bar-B-Que instead and I had planned to but I never had a chance. It remains on my to do list for next time.

Also on to my eat list for BBQ is Salt Lick. I believe the only location in Austin is in the airport but a friend back home has been talking about it for years so I need to get some of that. I did see it when I was getting off the plane but didn't have time to grab food before picking up my luggage. 

The one place I was aching to go to was a very old favorite: Gus’s World Famous Fried Chicken. I have been to only one location of this chain, in Memphis way back in 2011 (, despite wanting to visit when I was in Chicago and Atlanta. However despite my continuous ambitions to revisit this old friend my plans always seem to go sideways. 

In Atlanta I ended up going to a local favorite for their fried chicken, Mary Mac’s ( In Austin I wound up choosing Lucy’s Fried Chicken over Gus’s. I had heard this was better so I figured I would give her a shot. 

Lucy’s is a no frills kind of establishment. It looks like you were wondering around in the woods and suddenly you happened upon a clearing and there was a place where you can rest your weary self and eat some fried chicken. I believe that is how the storybook version goes. 

I sat down with my beloved cousin to share some corn and a basket of chicken (clearly I needed my own). I liked being able to sit outdoors while still have a respite from the burning hot sun. I feel like all of Austin should be under a steel or plastic awning, allowing you to enjoy the breeze.

The corn was good as was the fried chicken. Now here is the real dilemma: was it better than Gus’s? My cousin says yes and I say I am leaning towards no. Lucy’s Fried Chicken had a good crunch and nice flavor but I feel like the crunch could have been stronger. For instance when I went in the refrigerator in the middle of the night for a snack it was mostly soggy and dry. Even cold I expect my fried chicken to hold its own. I know its been some time since I have seen Gus so I can't be quite certain if my memory serves me well or whether I have built him up in my mind. I suppose the only rational thing to do is make sure I get my ass to the nearest location ASAP and figure out my truth. As for Lucy I am glad to have made her acquaintance. 

From the moment I arrived in town I was promised a spectacular brunch on Saturday morning before I was off to my first ever Kentucky Derby party. Truth be told this would be the first time (and most likely) my last time watching the race. But I was in the South and it felt like a fun theme for a party - another first unless you count Halloween parties. 

This brunch was to be had at Annie’s Cafe & Bar. It was a beautiful Saturday morning and I was all gussied up for the Derby party so doing brunch was a great idea. It seemed like all of Austin was out looking for a bite to eat. There was a small wait but I was assured the food was worth it. Long story short; it was!

I had the fried egg sandwich served with tomato, aged white cheddar on grilled sourdough with a side of potatoes. I skipped the bacon since my migraine brain does not process nitrates well. Much to my delight getting an iced coffee was a breeze! Sorry Savannah you have scarred me for life (  

My sandwich was incredibly good. So good in fact I licked my plate clean. The service was impeccable and the restaurant itself was light, airy, and of a good size. Overall it was probably my favorite meal in Austin. Although I have already gone to Annie’s, she still gets a spot on any future itinerary I plan just because there are so many other dishes that whet my appetite. 

The only real snack I had was when I stopped for a cookies and cream milkshake at Moojo’s. It is an adorable little shop and all of the ingredients are homemade. The house specialties are the ice cream sandwiches they prepare using an array of ice cream flavors to match the freshly baked cookies. It reminds me a great deal of Coolhaus ( I have been to in NYC. But this being the trendy food town of Austin vegan and gluten free options are aplenty. 

As for my Moojo one of a kind shake it was delicious and refreshing after a long day of sight-seeing. It was just want I needed to get my depleted sugar levels back up before another exciting evening. 

I am now going to take a moment to give a special mention to two Austin restaurants I really wanted to eat at and didn't get to.  

First up there is Chuy’s. Chuy’s Tex-Mex is a chain restaurant that opened up its first place in Austin in 1982. Chuy’s offers up some of the best food around. I have heard from my brother who has visited Austin several times as well as from my cousin who lives there, that the food is really good. They have a free nacho bar and serve meals that come with a side of rice and beans. All of the things I love. But once again I did not have a chance to visit. Sadly there isn't a location in NYC although there are many around the country. 

Frommer’s reminds us that it was a Chuy’s where the Bush twins were arrested for underage drinking back in 2001. I don't know why but now my craving to eat here is even stronger. 

The second place is Torchy’s Tacos which also got its start in Austin on wheels way before that was a thing. Chef Michael Rypka quit his executive job to chase hsi foodie dreams. He opened his first location in 2006 but had no customers. He quickly realized that if his customers wouldn't come to him he would have to go to them. He hopped on his scooter and handed out free chips and salsa as a way to promote himself. Before he knew it he would have several locations and trucks all around the city with people willing to wait as long as it took to get his tacos. 

Since Chef Mike always wanted to make sure he was cooking what his customers wanted he often shouted to the crowd to see what they thought. The now signature rallying cry “damn good” is how he knew he had a hit. Some times genius strikes like lightening. I could go for a damn good taco right now. 

I blame Austin for all of the meals I missed out on. I mean why do they have to have sooooo many good restaurants? Seriously what is a girl to do?

I want to leave you with one final feel good food related story. 

It is about a man named John Mackey who in 1978 borrowed forty-five thousand dollars from family and friends, which is over one hundred seventy-four thousand dollars in today’s money, to open a small natural foods store he called SaferWay. Until his business took off he and his partner Renee Lawson lived at the store. Fast forward to 1981 (a good year if I do say so myself) and the worst flood to occur in the past seventy years hit Austin. The entire store was destroyed with losses estimated at a half a million dollars. Sadly the store had no insurance and thus that would have been the end of the story if not for the caring community. The store’s customers, creditors, visitors, and vendors all pitched in to help get the store back on its feet. With all that help SafeWay re-opened only twenty-eight days later. As they say the rest is history. We now know this natural food store by its new name: Whole Foods Market. The original store is still open for all to see and shop. 

I love this city. There always seems to be a happy ending. 

Looks like my next visit to Austin is going to be purely food binge! Ah the perfect vacation.

My Austin series concludes next with all the travel info you need to get in, out, and around. 

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