I spent an afternoon in Austin, Texas last week, HOORAY! Finally, I have set foot in the city I’ve longed to go to, satisfying my curiosity and witnessing Pacific NW hipster vibes right here in Texas.
I was on the way to Enchanted Rock, about 1.5 hours outside Austin, for a camping extravaganza with my classmates from my Christian fellowship that involved a treacherous hike up a massive hill of rock for fun (nothing enchanting about sweating up a storm, unfortunately) and a lot of deep sharing around the campfire. And despite the plethora of camping newbies on the trip, including myself, we were able to avoid starvation due to the presence of an Eagle Scout, thank the Lord.
Camping at Enchanted Rock and exploring Austin were both equally diverting and fascinating, and I was able to experience some more Texan culture—namely, more Tex Mex and Whataburger.
For lunch in Austin we went to a place called Trudy’s, and as I walked through the door I immediately knew I felt at home—the waiters were wearing FLANNEL. Anyways, it took much hemming and hawing to decide what to order because people left and right suggested various options. One major contender was the chimichanga, which was described to me as a “deep-fried burrito that would clog up your arteries”. Well, that didn’t sound very pleasant, but apparently if fried to the right degree of crispiness the burrito is dubbed marvelous. And then when I mentioned to my friends that I disliked queso, an uproar ensued. (Haters gonna hate, am I right?) But funnily enough, the dish I ordered was loaded with queso. It was called the Ciro’s Special, and I enjoyed it supremely. Although there was queso in every bite, the cheese didn’t overpower the smoky, grilled chicken and onions, as I had expected. And the queso didn’t have a weird, plastic or oozy, slimy texture that I’d tasted in the past. I even helped myself to some chips and polished them off with impromptu queso dip from my food and scoops of refried black beans (more mashed up and a bit saucy than just plain) and Mexican rice. Prior to lunch, I was seriously famished, so although I had eaten a hearty amount of chips and salsa before the main course, I had no trouble snacking on some more after I’d finished my meal. If there’s anything I really miss from Texas right now, it’s the bottomless chips and salsa.
After the midday repast, we wandered around the streets alongside U.T. Austin and then headed to the Graffiti Park for sightseeing and digesting before we hit up Gourdough’s food truck.
(Left: “Son of a Peach”, Right: “Black Out”, photo courtesy of Catherine Miller)
Gourdough’s is a shiny little silver trailer park that takes pride in serving giant donuts with witty names and unique flavor combinations, such as the “Mother Clucker” (chicken tenders and honey butter on a donut) and the “Sailor Jerry” (rum cake donut). Those donuts are truly giant in size, and since I was so full from lunch I decided to split one with a friend. And eating one half was ample enough. My friend and I went with the “Son of a Peach”, which was recommended by our ATX tour guide (the Eagle Scout) as well. This donut, my friends, was a fried mass of heavenly dough slathered with vanilla icing, topped with a dollop of peach filling and fresh peach pieces and a smattering of cake mix powder as a finish. It was GLORIOUS. I think I would have enjoyed it even more if I had been perhaps a little bit hungrier and if there were more fresh peaches and less icing on the donut, but nevertheless it was delightful. And then I proceeded to sleep off the food like a bum in the car as we hit the road for Enchanted Rock. Hopefully I can go back to Austin next year for some more foodie experiences. I wouldn’t even mind living there in the future too if I stay in Texas—welcome to the hotter and drier version of Portland, folks.