Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Food Memories of Austin

Wall Art at Vivo in Austin, TX - Photo by Taste As You Go

We were spoiled last week in New York City with unseasonably warm temperatures in the mid-70s. Now we're dealing with downright frigid temperatures, which shouldn't surprise us given that it's November, but there have been grumblings about how cold it is out there. Therefore, I think it's the perfect time to look back on the practically impulsive trip I took to Austin to visit my friend Kristina back in August.



Vivo
2015 Manor Road
Austin, TX 78722
(512) 482-0300 | Map

Immediately upon landing in Austin, Kristina and her husband Brian picked me up and took me out for "better than sex... Tex-Mex" at Vivo. There was a bit of a wait for a table, so we grabbed a seat outside on this gorgeous patio rigged with misters designed to keep customers cool in the Texas heat. Brilliant. After about five minutes, we were led to our table inside the restaurant, and as we were sitting, I noticed the artwork on the walls featuring naked (or nearly naked) women (see above). They really want you to keep sex on the brain at Vivo!

Margarita at Vivo in Austin, TX - Photo by Taste As You Go

I wasn't planning on drinking anything alcoholic because I wanted to stay true to my marathon training plan (i.e. run 8 miles the following morning), but Kristina and Brian managed to convince me to order a Frozen Strawberry Margarita ($10.70).

Two Types of Salsa at Vivo in Austin, TX - Photo by Taste As You Go

Chile Con Queso at Vivo in Austin, TX - Photo by Taste As You Go

The margarita was fresh and smooth, and I could barely taste the alcohol! (Dangerous... very dangerous...) I don't know what I was thinking when I vowed not to drink alcohol until after my training run. That margarita went perfectly with the complimentary Chips and Salsa that we were snacking on as we waited for our entrees. And, of course, Kristina insisted that I try authentic Texas Chile Con Queso ($5.95 for a cup; $7.95 for a bowl). So damn good.

Emma's Choice at Vivo in Austin, TX - Photo by Taste As You Go

Due to low lighting in the restaurant, the picture of my meal turned out pretty horribly, but I wanted to include it so y'all (teehee) didn't think I only had a margarita for dinner. I ordered Emma's Choice ($10.95) because it was a combo plate that offered a Puffy Taco (a "homemade corn tortilla fried to a puffy, golden perfection with your choice of filling") and an Enchilada. I didn't want just tacos since I knew we weren't going to have Tex-Mex again while I was in Austin, but Brian was raving so much about the Puffy Tacos that I caved a little. The combo plate seemed like the best option, and you know what? The Puffy Taco lived up to the hype. I loved the vibe at Vivo and thought it was the perfect place to kickoff my mini-vacation.

Vivo Cocina Mexicana on Urbanspoon

The Salt Lick in Austin, TX - Photo by Taste As You Go

3350 East Palm Valley Boulevard
Round Rock, TX 78665
(512) 386-1044 | Map

During the planning stages of my trip, I was pretty insistent that we go for "real Texas barbecue" while I was down there. Thankfully, Kristina had no problem with my demand request and took me to The Salt Lick for dinner one night before we met up with some of the girls for drinks at The Oasis on Lake Travis.

The Salt Lick in Austin, TX - Photo by Taste As You Go

Since it was a beautiful evening and not too hot, we decided to sit outside so we could enjoy the view and listen to the music of the live band that was setting up when we arrived. It only took me a brief look at the menu to decide what I wanted: the Combination Plate of Meats.

Combination Plate of Meats at The Salt Lick in Austin, TX - Photo by Taste As You Go

Pickles and Onions at The Salt Lick in Austin, TX - Photo by Taste As You Go

For $11.95, I got to try the brisket, the sausage, and the turkey (a meat I don't normally associated with barbecue), in addition to generous helpings of coleslaw, potato salad, beans, pickles, onions, and bread (not pictured). After one bite, I decided that I wanted food from The Salt Lick in my version of Heaven. Allow me to give you a pictorial tour around my plate.

Beef Brisket at The Salt Lick in Austin, TX - Photo by Taste As You Go
Tender, smoky beef brisket with The Salt Lick's signature barbecue sauce

Sausage at The Salt Lick in Austin, TX - Photo by Taste As You Go
Plump, juicy sausage, slathered in more of The Salt Lick's signature barbecue sauce

Turkey at The Salt Lick in Austin, TX - Photo by Taste As You Go
Succulent turkey with (you guessed it) The Salt Lick's signature barbecue sauce

Potato Salad at The Salt Lick - Photo by Taste As You Go
Tangy potato salad with absolutely no mayonnaise!

Coleslaw at The Salt Lick in Austin, TX - Photo by Taste As You Go
Fresh and crisp coleslaw, also without mayonnaise!

Beans at The Salt Lick - Photo by Taste As You Go
Rich and hearty beans that bear zero resemblance to the sweet baked beans of Boston

Do you want to know how good the food at The Salt Lick is? It is so good that I cleaned my plate in record timing! (I am a habitually slow eater. Ask my boyfriend. He'll tell you all about it.)

The fact that both the potato salad and the coleslaw were prepared without mayonnaise just blew me away. I'm normally very picky about the potato salad that I eat (unless it's my mother's recipe) and I almost always ask servers to "hold the coleslaw" because I hate the smell of the mayonnaise in it. But since there was no mayonnaise here, there was no problem! I couldn't get enough. I even ate the beans. I didn't think I would after years of suffering through helpings of Boston baked beans, but I gobbled those up without a care. (I love the city of Boston... I hate the beans.) This one meal elevated Austin to a spot on the list of my Top 5 Favorite Cities.

The Salt Lick Bar B-Que on Urbanspoon

While in Texas, Kristina and I took a day trip to San Antonio so I could "Remember the Alamo!" Be sure to check back for my reminiscences of the food we ate on that trip. And, Austinites (and those who simply love the city of Austin), if I were to schedule another visit to The ATX, where should I eat? Leave a comment with your suggestions!