LRL JAMs Vol. 2
Tour jams, round two. No time to waste.
Albuquerque, NM to Amarillo, TX
Truck stop fried chicken is a gamble. It always seems like a good idea, but sometimes you eat the b'ar, and sometimes the b'ar eats you. This time, I ate the b'ar in the form of a wing section of Broaster fried chicken. What is a Broaster, anyway? I suppose I could Google it, but I'm not going to. This stuff was good, and a welcome detour from the Mini-Spooner and almond road I'd been taking.
The 806: recommended.
The first time we rolled through Amarillo, we hit this sweet coffee shop and had a great time playing and eating free pizza bagels. The second time through was more of the same, which was great. Jason makes a mean pizza bagel (you have your choice of Parmesan cheese or sun-dried tomato bagels) and boy, do they hit the spot. They don't leave you feeling too full before you play, which is an added bonus. I also had some sort of green tea, and I wish I remembered what kind it was, because it was good. Maybe it was all the honey I put in it. Gotta take care of the throat.
Waffle House: always recommended (unless you're in Birds & Batteries).
Let's get the fact that most of B&B hates on Waffle House (to each his own). I love this place because it's cheap and decent. To cite my price/quality correlation, if the quality of the food exceeds the cost, you've got a winner. Waffle House doesn't hold up to most of my beloved jams, but it's so cheap that you can't deny it. We stopped for 1:00 p.m. breakfast, though I had a hamburger plate with diced and peppered hash browns. When our waitress found out we were in a band, she told us about this local band that was named after one of the member's late son. She spoke so quickly that I had a hard time catching the name, or most of the details of the story, but when she switched to talking about how she saw Pink Floyd live, things got interesting. She told us that they caught Floyd on the Division Bell tour and that her husband, "you couldn't miss him, he was wearing a t-shirt with the sleeves cut way off," was there with her and their friend. It was the best time she had ever had at a concert, she said, and she was elated to find a quick shot of them on the subsequent concert DVD, especially since their friend had since died. Lots of people this woman knew rocked and died, and she did a pretty good job of making our food, even though she was just covering for the cook who didn't show. Later, on the ride to Dallas, we snacked hard.
Zini's Pizza: recommended.
Just a block away from Club Dada in Dallas's Deep Ellum neighborhood, Zini's Pizza delivers (and delivers). The slices are on the smaller side, but they're tasty and pretty inexpensive. The girl at the counter asked if she had seen me before. I told her that she may have, since I've had a slice from Zini's every time we've played in Deep Ellum. She asked what band I was in, and when I told her, she told me she'd never heard of us. Then she gave me the employee discount. Here's to pity pizza. They also give you these awesome chocolate fortune cookies. I don't remember my fortune because I was too busy counting the dollar I just saved.
Neil and Sarah's house:
I love these two people. They're friends from way back, they always put us up, and they always have awesome food. Sarah even came by on her lunch break to bring us some sausages and other snacks. I took two habanero sausages, some garlic, green peppers, onions, and olive oil, and cooked them up, then added a jar of Newman's Own Tomato and Basil pasta sauce. Mark cooked the remaining four sausages (feta and artichoke and Texas hot links) in beer on the stove top and then grilled them to finish. Julie, Neil, Mark, and I sat down to a meal of sausage sauce-covered sausage sandwiches while Amanda looked on and thought about the Boca burger she just ate.
Ft. Worth, TX
We heard big talk about Fuzzy's from Julie, as she had first experienced this new taco chain while in Texas on tour with her band, Or, the Whale. Good food, she had said, and well within the budget of no budget. Chris, from the band Telegraph Canyon, brought us over before our show at the Chat Room Pub. Having just eaten a lot of sausage, I held back and only ordered one carnitas hard taco. It was very good. The meat was tender and had a hint of garlic, the shell was crispy and the whole taco was topped with tomatoes, lettuce, and feta cheese. This would not be the last time I jammed Fuzzy's on the trip.
Kim Phung: recommended.
Outside of Kim Phung, banners proclaim its dominance in the world of Austin Vietnamese food. It won "Best Noodle Bowl" about a million years in a row, and had all kinds of other awards affixed to the door. We headed in for lunch and three of the four of us ordered noodle bowls (Amanda ordered what sounded like a chewy noodle dish but ended up being a crispy noodle and vegetable affair that was heavy on the presentation), along with tofu and shrimp spring rolls. The spring rolls were good, maybe a little thick in the way of rice noodle wrapping. The peanut sauce was good, not very "liquidy" and strongly flavored with soy sauce. The shrimp noodle bowl was good, and large. I was the only one who ended up finishing, because I am a fat kid. Vietnamese food is generally cheap, and this was no exception. I think each entree was around $6.00, which is pretty good. The service was prompt, but they didn't get Mark's jokes. The fortune cookies also didn't contain fortunes, but advice. Darned preachy Vietnamese.
Kick Butt Coffee: meh.
Our first show of SXSW took place at Kick Butt Coffee, a new coffee shop on the outskirts of Austin. The employees have to dress up in karate gis, they have an anime logo, there are rubber shuriken in a basket at the counter (for some reason), and they have swords on the wall and a TV that plays Nintendo's Wii or some sort of kung-fu/action movie. The coffee was okay (and free because we played to nobody) but the place is wicked gimmicky. Good if you find yourself out on Airport Boulevard in need of some caffeine.
County Line (On the Hill): recommended.
I normally hate on Texas barbecue (it comes in so far behind the pork-based barbecues of the Carolinas), but this place was good. I will conceded that Texas barbecue, in general, is pretty good. Julie's cousin recommended we hit this place on the way back to her house, and we did. The neon sign that greets the patrons is one to behold, and it amps up your anticipation as you ascend the hill into the parking lot. On top of the restaurant is a two-headed steer that is the most metal thing I've seen adorning an eatery. The smell of barbecue sauce is present even in the parking lot, which is always a good sign. I split some barbecue chicken wings with Mike, which were excellent. The meat was tender and well-cooked, and the sauce was sweet and spicy. They brought out ranch with them, which was understandable since we were in Texas but still made me wish it was bleu cheese. My entree was a three-meat plate: brisket, hot links, and pork ribs. Our waiter was an affable jabroni named Guy, and he convinced me to add potato salad to my already-chosen sides of baked beans and cole slaw at no extra charge. It was a mistake. I didn't even touch it. The food was great, though it wasn't the best barbecue I've had (I love you, Dinosaur BBQ).
Pita Pit: recommended.
We tried to go for burgers at Casino el Camino, which is a total jam. Unfortunately, it's not an hidden treasure, so there was a 45-minute wait on burgers. We decided to go to Pita Pit because it offers the chance to load up on vegetables for cheap. After ordering your choice of pita filling (chicken, hummus, ham, etc.), you tell them what to put in the sandwich. We've found that if you get a fat person to make your pita, they put in more than if you get some random skinny person. Try for yourself and let me know how it works out. I had grilled chicken with almost all of the vegetables (skipped iceberg lettuce, sprouts, and cucumbers), feta cheese, tatziki, and hot sauce. Jam.
The Parlor: recommended.
Punk-rock pizza out on North Loop. They do shows and they make some pretty good pies. We've been lucky to eat for free there, since we've only visited when we were playing shows. The pizza isn't deep dish, and it isn't thin crust; it's somewhere in between, on the chewy side with a layer of crunch where it's been fired in the oven. We jammed ricotta cheese and sausage, and it was great. My dining experience was slightly tainted by the chips in my teeth that I gave myself that night when I accidentally bit down on the microphone during our last song. Bummer.
Iron Works: recommended.
We've been told that this is George Bush's favorite barbecue restaurant, which does a lot to sour the taste of the otherwise good barbecue they make. It's pretty unfair to hold an establishment accountable for its patrons' actions, though, so we stepped into Iron Works to try it out (jammer King also wanted us to go try it). I had a chicken plate and split a half-rack of ribs with the guys. The chicken was good, tender and well-sauced (but not overwhelmed). The sauce was sweet and rich, and went well with the sides of cole slaw and baked beans. The ribs were better than the ones I had at County Line a couple of nights before, tender with a bit of meat-on-the-bone resistance. The service was friendly, if a bit rushed, and the prices weren't bad. This place definitely isn't cheap, but you'll leave full.
Clementine Coffee: recommended.
We played So Many Bands' 5th Anniversary party on Friday and were treated to free (iced) coffees and yellow and chocolate "birthday" cake. Since it was about a billion degrees outside and we were tired as all get-out, the iced coffee was life-saving. The cake, I think, was mostly eaten by me, Sesos, Clark, and Jared from Scouts Honor. When it's free, it's for me.
Taqueria Los Jalisciensis: not recommended.
Before watching Birds & Batteries play their final show of SXSW, I headed over to Taqueria Los Jalisciensis to get what I hoped would be a relatively (stressed) healthy chicken taco salad. Since the show was at the way-out Kick Butt Coffee, I didn't have much of a choice when it came to convenient food options. (I could have gone to Wendy's or Panda Express; the last time I went to Panda Express, I bit into a rock and when I brought it to the attention of the counter person, she said, "Oh, I know," and then just looked at me.) Initial signs were promising: I was the only gringo in the place, and there was even a mariachi band playing. I opened the taco salad when I got back to the coffee shop and was dismayed to see that it was covered in flavorless, green and gloopy "guacamole," a pool of equally flavorless "sour cream," and handfuls of unmelted, shredded cheddar cheese. There was some limp iceberg lettuce buried under the chicken, which tasted like it had come from...Panda Express. I didn't touch the shell, and I guess I should consider myself lucky that I didn't bite into any debris. I felt like 2 bucks after eating, a feeling that would stay with me for the rest of the evening. I think that was the point in the trip when I missed San Francisco the most.
Epoch Coffee: recommended.
Another North Loop establishment, we visited Epoch for some iced coffee and pizza before our parking lot show at Monkey Wrench Books. Epoch has good coffee and offers slices of pizza by a local pizza place whose name I forget. Amanda got the Epoch, which was artichoke and sun-dried tomato, and I got the Buscemi, which was jalapenos, sausage, red peppers, and onions. Good stuff. The crust was thin and the sauce was sweet, and the toppings were generous.
On our way out of town, we hit a Chick-fil-a because we really wanted it, and Mark may have died of hunger and thirst (we had just played a brutally hot mid-afternoon show in the parking lot of Monkey Wrench Books). Chick-fil-a is awesome. Not convinced? Two words: waffle fries. You can't go wrong with a Number 1 (saying "deluxe" gets you lettuce and tomato on your sandwich). They also have sweet tea. Yes. I got a milkshake on the way out because it was hot and I have no self control.
The last round of tour jams is on the way. Thanks for reading.