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Au revoir, awesome Austin!

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I’ve always wanted to come to Austin. I’d heard so much about how it’s the “San Francisco of Texas.” My friend Terry, from the tattoo shop, spent a year there, and loved it. My local drive-around buddies were from Republic distributors, Scott

Scott

and Chris (whose picture I forgot to take). Scott actually drove me all the way from San Antonio, and between him and Chris, I feel I got to know this city of nearly 900,000—Texas’s capital—pretty well. I took this picture of the downtown skyline from his car.

Austin

Despite its size, Austin has a small-town feeling, especially the downtown area and Sixth Street,

SixthSt

which was so like Oakland, and also reminded me of the Pearl District in Portland, Oregon: young, energetic, lots of hip clubs, bars, wine stores and tattoo shops, and cool, creative little restaurants. The temperature was very hot, above 100 degrees, but, being inland, it didn’t have the humidity of Houston, so I found it very comfortable. (Of course, we were going from one air-conditioned place to another.)

We had lunch at Mongers,

Mongers

which may not look like much from the outside, but is one of the better seafood restaurants; their ahi tuna poke was fantastic.

My friends brought me to some wine shops: Beverage World, a fine little venue with a really friendly, loyal clientele, where I hosted a tasting with the chef and buyer, Eric Pelegrin,

EricBevWorld

a Frenchman who is a man after my own heart. Wow, did we have fun with the customers, nearly all of whom brought their dogs (and made me really miss Gus!). We also tasted with John Roenigk, owner of the Austin Wine Merchant,

AustinWineMerch

the kind of wine store I just love to poke around, row after crowded row of interesting bottles (and I joked that I wouldn’t mind getting locked in there some night!). We also visited The Grove Wine Bar & Kitchen, where I met the proprietor, Reed Clemons,

ReedClemonsGrove

and what a success story that is: Reed now has four branches of this fun, lively restaurant, with its modern decor and highly curated wine list.

I stayed at the Omni. This was my last dinner before heading home:

LastTXDinner

crab cakes and mussels, washed down with a vodka gimlet. Fairly standard hotel fare, but I’m not complaining. The vodka was local, from Tito’s, which I’d earlier had in San Antonio, and it was quite good. I always try to drink local on these trips.

At the Austin Airport, on my way back to San Francisco, I saw this poster in one of the shops. “Keep Austin Weird” is, I guess, sort of the town’s motto.

AustinWeird

I felt like I’d done my part, however briefly, to do exactly that!

And now, it’s on the road again this week, to Southern California. I’ll do my best to report. Take care and be well.

  1. Bob Henry says:

    A food and wine trip through Texas . . . and not a single mention of ‘cue?

    Adam Lee — native or adoptive son of Texas — tell me it ain’t so!

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