Tuesday, August 18, 2009

stretchin' my tummy to the austin city limits!

last week marked the yearly nerdy nerd fest i always attend - the society of american archivists annual meeting.

every year we nerds descend upon a random US city to discuss such pressing issues as EAD, mass digitization, archives and web 2.0 capabilities, issues surrounding photographs and film and preservation in general.

throw in a healthy dose of eye glasses, knitting and cat stories and there you have it - an annual meeting of archivists.

i'll be honest - i really dig all that archivist mumbo jumbo. i like hearing what other archives are doing cuz some of 'em have big budgets and a staff that actually adheres to archival best practice.

some repositories are just doing amazing, amazing things - like the brooklyn museum's flickr page and the archives of american art's online collections (digitization of entire manuscript collections! incredible!) and i thought this was a pretty bitchin' idea too!!

and of course, the next best things to all of that is eating and exploring in a new city! i'll be honest, i may like that better that the archivist stuff. but just a lil'.

i've been to texas but that was year's ago and it wasn't austin, which is apparently the coolest, least texan city in texas. and you know what they are famous for in texas? you guessed it....BBQ! brisket to be specific.

friends - you know my heart lies in the mustard and vinegary pulled pork of the carolinas but i also heard that nowhere, NOWHERE, does brisket like texas and i was ready to see what all of the hype was about.

upon arrival in austin i was very hungry and with temperatures over 90 with the sun setting - very, very thirsty.

i hit lamberts.

happy hour meant half off beers and all food on the bar menu. woohoo!

i had a fireman's #4, the broiled gulf oysters (good but raw on the beach is WAY better) and the brisket sammich. it was pretty fuckin' good. (and it was only $15!!) oh, and these guys were playn' - the moonhangers.

(insert contextual clue - i was in austin for 4 1/2 days. i didn't eat bbq every single meal but i did have three incredible bbq experiences that were certainly worth noting.)

so, i rented a bike for 24 hours. it was at least 100 degrees every day and walking miles and miles and miles in that kind of heat was unappealing (and buses are on a schedule AND cost money!). instead i decided to bike miles and miles and miles. it was still oppressive but i could cover more ground in less time.

and because i walked all the way to the bike shop i stumbled across this place.

the green mesquite.

ok, i lied. i didn't stumble upon this place. i am a librarian for christ's sakes. and at a librarian's conference no less. i had 2 pages in my notebook dedicated to bbq joints and other points of interest - addresses, telephone numbers, pros and cons provided by local yelpers.

i pride myself in being an educated traveler (and a gigantic nerd). i don't have to hit all of the spots but i list them all over the city anyways and i guess if i stumble across 'em i might as well stop in.

i had to go for the brisket sandwich.

$3.99 plus a couple of bucks for a dos equis on draft.
man, i like texas.

this was so good. smoked meat on cheap white bread. just a lil' sauce. mmm!

and the servers were wearing shirts that said, "horrifying vegetarians since 1988." that made me chuckle while i stuffed my face with brisket.

and then i had a life changing experience.

i went to the salt lick.

i cannot even begin to explain this place and their amazing bbq. if i believed in a god he was the man behind this grill. this was a fuckin' religious experience. the food, the people, the wooden tables and the iced tea. heaven. better than heaven.

they serve 4 kinds of meat - brisket, pork ribs, sausage and turkey. you can get a plate with 3 meats along with beans, potato salad and cole slaw.

here it is. man oh man. there are no words.

my fellow bbq enthusiast (she drove over from houston to experience the salt lick with me) and i stuffed ourselves to the gills. i sliced up the jalapeno and mixed it into my beans. i ripped off a hunk of bread and made a brisket sammich.

they gave us extra sauce in those little metal pitchers that diners use to serve tea or syrup for pete's sakes!

and of course we had to get dessert! think i'm gonna go all the way to driftwood, texas and not order the peach cobbler with ice cream?

and look at this.

just. look. at. this.

the salt lick has a really cool history and it is one of only a handful of open pit bbq joints left in texas.

that pit, just a few feet from where i ate my dinner, is the most beautiful things these eyes have ever seen.

i saw other sights in austin. the hike and bike trail around the lake is beautiful. the bats were amazing and barton springs was incredibly refreshing. i tooled around the state capital and the university of texas. i had a beer at the driskell and one day i fully intend on returning to austin and actually shacking up there. and of course i made my way up and down 6th sampling beers, margaritas and live music.

austin, texas fucking rules and i can't wait to go back. good people, good bbq, and lonestar for a mere $5.79 a 6-pack.

keep austin weird indeed.