Day 11: Travel to Austin for the weekend
Roadfood: Sonny Bryan s Original Location, Czech American Restaurant
While Sharon went to the office to tie up some loose ends before the weekend, I slept late, caught up on email, worked on planning the rest of the trip, and went to Sonny Bryan s for lunch We had hoped to get away early but we wound up leaving in the middle of the holiday weekend exodus from Dallas.
I had the opportunity to have a leisurely lunch at the original Sonny Bryan s location. There is a world of difference between this location and the West End location that we ate in last week. First, you can tell this place has been here for a long time. All the customers seem to be regulars and nobody seems to need to read the menu. Upon trying to figure out what this place sells and how to order it, I discovered that the menu is a series of placards above the counter.
Reading my way through these placards I settled on a two meat platter (beef, sausage) with sides of onion rings and slaw and a Big Red to wash it down. As do many well established joints, Sonny Bryan s has it s own method of ordering. During the busy periods someone comes out from behind the counter and takes orders on a small pad of blank paper. Somehow she gets these back to the kitchen and eventually your order appears.
Now this sounds easy, except that the area in front of the counter gets very busy. This is a small place. When I first pulled up I did not think there was enough room for a seating area, but somehow they manage to have about 25 seats indoors with a half a dozen picnic tables outside. Anyway, there are 20 to 25 people generally milling around in front of the counter. They are trying to order, trying to stay out of the way as they wait for their order, trying to get to the counter to pay for their food, and getting condiments of pickles, onion, jalapenos, and sauce to enhance their meals.
BTW, what flavor is a Big Red? About all I can come up with is sweet , which obviously is not a flavor. It is a thirst quenching sweet drink for washing down your barbecue on a hot day, but what flavor is it?
Eventually my order came out and I paid for it and went outside to eat.
Beef brisket, sausage, onion rings, pickles, onions, jalapenos, hamburger bun, Big Red
I found the meat at Sonny Bryan s to be fork tender, almost too easy to fall apart. It seemed that if you looked at it cross eyed it would fall apart. Also, it did not have as much smoke flavor as it could have. The sausage was cut into narrow slices. Unfortunately, you lose the snap when you bite into it. Both the beef and sausage were sauced. The onion rings had the coating falling apart and all of them had large expanses of the onion exposed with no coating. The slaw was good but I liked the slaw at the West End location more.
I know that I have just bashed a venerable Dallas institution. It might have been an anomaly for this location. I might be spoiled by all the barbecue I have eaten in the last week. But, as the blind umpire said to the deaf catcher, I calls em as I sees em.
I am glad I ate at Sonny Bryan s in the West End. I am glad that I ate at Sonny Bryan s original location. These are good places to get above average barbecue. However, this is not great barbecue. For that you need to get out to Lockhart, Luling, Elgin, or similar places to get really great Texas barbecue.
Sharon and I got on the road late in the afternoon and encountered a lot of traffic leaving Dallas. We Stopped in West, TX for a Czech dinner. We were very pleased with the Czech American Restaurant.
We started with the pirogies. We both had much experience with this dish and were greatly impressed almost worth the trip just for these. They were,21,203894.068,1,7586,220.127.116.11
203961,203894,203894,2006-05-26 10:38:34,RE: NJ to TX In Search of TX BBQ”
Your trip shouldn’t end. I really love all this food. Texas is such a unique eating experience. Are you sure this isn’t Bushie in disguise? I’m waiting for the poster to pop up in a Hawaiian shirt. Whoever this is, keep going. Never say you’re full. You can only experience this so many times. Unless of course you really are Bushie.
I have to agree – this has been a great read so far and I’m hungry for more! I did take your suggestion and started a thread on Where to Eat for my upcoming trip. Thanks and I’ll look forward to reading and seeing more of your adventures![:D]
Thanks for the compliment. Now, wipe off your keyboard! [;)]
Oh, my gosh, your food pictures are fantastic! I am drooling!!!
I have to say the first pic of the girl at "concrete" is just priceless! You should publish that!!!
Day 10: San Antonio to Dallas with side trips
Roadfood: Round Rock Donuts, Southside Market, Crosstown Barbecue, Royer s Round Top Caf�
Today I left San Antonio and returned to Dallas. Sharon has been working while I was in San Antonio, but we are attempting to get down to Austin for the weekend. I thoroughly enjoyed San Antonio and will definitely return.
I started my Roadfood day by visiting Round Rock Donuts.
This is a popular place. I arrived at about 9:00 AM and there was still a huge morning crowd. There was a line of at least 10 vehicles that snaked from the drive up window, through the parking lot, and into the street. I parked in the church parking lot across the street and walked inside for my donut fix.
The first thing that strikes you about a "Round Rock" (that is the name of the plain donut) is the unusual yellowish orange color. The next striking thing is that it is still warm.
Texas size cinnamon roll, cherry bimarck, and a Round Rock
As you pick up this light and fluffy creation you start to realize that you have a sticky mess on your hands, literally. My hands were so sticky and messy from just lining up the donuts for the photo that I had to clean my hands three times before I picked up the camera. But what a wonderful sticky mess you have all over everything.
How do you describe such a light, fluffy, sugary, crusty creation? Unfortunately most of my donut eating has been at commercial donut outlets. I was not prepared for such a unique treat. I had to try the cherry bismarck. The cherry filling was sweet but a little sour and is a wonderful compliment to the sugary coating. Also, as I broke the donut open I did not think that a donut could be so flaky.
I also tried the Texas size sticky bun. I was disappointed because it was cold, somewhat hard and did not have a discernable strong cinnamon flavor.
My next target was Elgin for some sausage and barbecue.
The Southside Market is a large barbecue. It is attached to an even larger commercial sausage and smoking operation. I had a small second breakfast of barbecue brisket and sausage at Southside.
The first thing that struck me about the brisket was the thick red line caused by the smoke as it permeated the meat. The brisket is very good, on a par with the other brisket I have been eating. Southside provides a thin sauce for flavoring the meat. I tried it but found that I did not need it at all. Southside is also a fingers only barbecue.
I found the hot sausage at Southside to be the best I have had so far. The diameter of the sausage was slightly larger than the others. The snap was not as pronounced as some of the sausage I enjoyed in Lockhart, but the snap was much more evident than you find with most sausages. The sausage was very juicy with a slightly different spiciness than the others. At first I did not think it was very spicy, but as I sat there I noticed that the spice and heat from the sausage lingered in my mouth. I found this to be a very pleasant taste. I just may have to order some of this sausage on the net when I get home.
Next I sought out a very unassuming place called Crosstown Barbecue, also in Elgin. This is a bare bones, no frills kind of place.
Crosstown is known for their pork ribs. I wanted to order one rib, but I ordered two. Round Top Caf� was next and I wanted to have some room for pie. What amazed my about these ribs was how well the rub and the smoke combined for an outstanding flavor.
Ribs expose much more surface area to the smoke during cooking than a slice ,21,203894.062,1,7586,18.104.22.168
203955,203894,203894,2006-05-25 22:48:08,RE: NJ to TX In Search of TX BBQ”
Thanks for the compliment on the quality of the travelog. I have not done this before – but I owe it all to Jane and Michael. If it were not for their passion, hard work, and desire to share I would not have been able to make the choices or had the inspiration.
This is fun – and I have about a week left. I am already planning my next one. How about "Shuffle Off to Buffalo"?
Bobs & Bushie –
I am starting to work up a plan to visit Memphis on my way back east. Unfortunately I do not think I will be able to visit Hay’s on a day when they are open. That will have to wait for another trip.
Totally different from TX BBQ, but it’s exquisite food. Get the "barbeque" (they cook "whole hog", and the "pulled pork" there is from all parts of the pig, which is just called "barbeque") with fries, beans, and cream slaw.
Tell Dennis Hays (he’ll be the guy in the overalls and ball-cap) that the folks from Roadfood recommended this to you, and he’ll treat you like a king. He’s "good people".
Akavar-If you come into Memphis you will want to try the Cozy Corner(ribs, cornish hen, bologna sandwich and really anything on the menu) they are down town off of North Parkway. A short way from there in the center of downtown Memphis is the Rendevous ( not my favorite but a must for visitors and world renowned). The Interstate Barbecue is on South Third coming into Memphis from Miss.and has a great pulled pork sandwich and all the other barbecue goodies. On the way to Nashville on I-40 stop in Jackson and go to Lathams off exit 82 North.They have a great breakfast until 9am and than great barbecue sandwiches, ribs, chicken, bologna etc. They will serve any of those items anytime after 6am.Mon-Sat. Keep going east on I-40 a few more miles and stop at Hay’s Smokehouse in Lexington. It is only open on FRi and Sat. Hay’s is a Roadfood favorite. Everything is good. They open at 10am.West TN. is BARBECUE COUNTRY!!!!!
Akavar, this is one of the best travelogs ever on Roadfood, and you have made excellent choices on your trip.
I’m somewhat envious… [8D][;)]
Thanks for the suggestions on Mexican food. I really like Mexican food – have since I was kid in Chicago and started eating at Mexican places there.
This trip I really wanted to focus on Texas barbecue so that I can understand what it is and be able to make an informed comparison with other types of barbecue. I had in the back of my mind to
check out Mexican places, but each day, by the end of my day eating barbecue, I was just too full to try to eat any more.
I will have to do another trip and have more concentration on Mexican food.
Akavar, thanks for the report. I’ve noticed you haven’t had any Mexican food. I know it’s not to everyone’s taste, but I’d like to suggest a couple of places that you might enjoy anyway. There are two in El Mercado, within easy walking distance of the Riverwalk, La Margarita and Mi Tierra. It’s been years since I’ve been to either, but Margarita had fine food but Mi Tierra has the Mexican bakery, which is kind of neat in itself. And the Mercado can be interesting, if a little touristy. Rosario’s, La Fogata, El Mirador, and Los Barrios are also among the better Mexican food places. Mirador is in the King William district, an historic residential neighborhood. I’ll even turn you on to my favorite Mexican place in SA, although it’s out of the way (wait a minute! I’m talking to the guy who drives all over Texas looking for barbecue)– La Fiesta Patio Cafe, 1421 Pat Booker Road. They do "natural" Mexican food– very light oils, free range chicken and natural beef, brown rice. I’m a native Texan and chili, melted cheese, and salsa flow through my veins (probably explains my health, but that’s another story), and La Fiesta was one of the top 5 Mexican food experiences of my life, along with Frontera Grill in Chicago and Otilia’s in Houston. And it’s as unprepossessing a place as can be.
The funkiest bar in downtown SA is the Liberty Bar– they serve good food too. The hotel can give you address and directions. The building leans as I recall.
There are just too many barbecues and so little time…
Day 9: Mostly sightseeing
Roadfood: New Braunfels Smokehouse, Olmos Pharmacy
Today was a laid back day. I finished posting yesterday s log and drove out to New Braunfels for breakfast at the Smokehouse.
The best thing about this breakfast was the smoked pork chop, the biscuits, and the fresh fruit. The pork chopped had been smoked to the point of being flavorful. So many places inject smoke flavor rather than use real smoke. The Smokehouse uses real smoke, and you can tell the difference. There is a slightly bitter flavor to many commercially smoked meats. You do not find that bitterness at the Smokehouse, just a mellow, flavorful smokiness that is pleasant on your tongue.
The biscuits were light and fluffy and freshly made. However, the scrambled eggs were overcooked and hacked to bits on the grill. They were inedible. The potatoes were real hash browns and OK for what they were. The fresh fruit garnish was a nice touch. I have not been eating much fruit and the beautiful large fresh strawberry was perfect. This is watermelon season in Texas and the slice of watermelon was fresh and tasty.
After a short drive through the hill country I wound up coming into town from the north so I stopped back at Olmos Pharmacy for lunch.
I ordered a patty melt and a cherry shake. I wanted chocolate malt, but the malt machine was not working today. The patty melt was perfectly done. The meat was juicy and the bread was grilled to perfection. The sandwich was grilled until it had just the right brownness to impart flavor and a crispness that most patty melts are lacking. With a little mustard, this was a perfect sandwich.
I do not usually like raw tomatoes. However, when I noticed that the tomatoes I was served were not your usual hothouse commercial tomatoes, I decided to try them. I put a little salt on them and was rewarded with a marvelous fresh locally grown tomato that you do not find even in the summer in most restaurants.
I admit that I was stumped as to how to handle the way the cherry shake was served. They give you a small glass that has the whipped cream in the bottom half. I always thought the whipped cream went on the top of the shake. Then they give you the cup containing the shake right off the mixing machine.
I did not know quite what to do with this, so I poured some of the shake over the whipped cream and ate it with a spoon. Then I tried to pour some more into the little cup. The shake kind of missed the cup and spilled on the counter. Then I noticed I was wearing the shake as well. I got a straw and finished the rest of the shake by drinking it right out of the stainless steel mixing cup. Oh – by the way it was a great shake. Fresh made with real ice cream and mixed on an old fashioned shake mixing machine.
Olmos is a must for breakfast or lunch when you are in San Antonio.
My project for the afternoon was to take a long walk on the Riverwalk and see if anybody could draw a Guinness properly. I tried what were supposed to be two Irish pubs and one
English pub. I tried a pint in each. Only one Irish pub kinda sorta served the draught with an almost decent waterfall.
My yardstick is an Irish pub in Old City Philadelphia called the Plough and Stars. They served a Guinness that seemed like it took five minutes to draw and the waterfall went on for several minutes. Oh well, I guess it was too much to hope for in a tourist area in San Antonio during happy hour.
Since there is a sandwich in every glass , I skipped dinner and continued my walk. Here are some additional photos from my walk.
203945,203894,203894,2006-05-24 23:37:53,RE: NJ to TX In Search of TX BBQ”
You must be logged in to reply to this topic.