We hit Texas hard on Wednesday, as we ventured out of Austin for a day full of eating and sight-seeing. First up: real Texas barbecue in nearby Lockhart. We arrived at Kreuz Market around noon and promptly ordered ourselves a pound of the beef brisket, rumored to be the best in the entire state. The man behind the counter shaved four super-thick slices off a warm hunk of just-done beef, slapped it down on a thick sheet of butcher paper with a full stack of Saltine crackers, and directed us to the adjacent dining hall to dig in. We sat down at our table and scratched our heads for a moment over how to go about eating this. Was there barbecue sauce? Forks? No and no. Shane did manage to rummage up a plastic knife, I fetched a lemonade at the drinks counter, and, taking our cue from the cowboy seated next to us, we just had at it. I suppose the thinking is that meat prepared this perfectly doesn’t need sauce or proper utensils, which is a point that’s hard to debate. Tender, moist, perfectly charred around the edges – this was the real deal.

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But Shane hadn’t come all this way to let some New York Times article tell him what was the best brisket in Texas – he needed to decide for himself. So we took a few minutes to let round one settle, then made our way over to Black’s Barbecue to see what the alleged runner-up had to offer. We restrained ourselves (a little) at this place, and ordered just one slice of beef, a couple of ribs, and a side of mashed potatoes. I favored this place, where the meat was a little smokier, but Shane favored Kreuz, so I suppose the jury’s still out.

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My baby bump was bulging extra big by the time we waddled out of Black’s. Shane read somewhere that babies start to have taste buds at this stage, and that you can actually get them used to the taste of certain foods depending on what you eat while they’re in utero. I guess vegetarianism is out of the question for little Schnell?

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From Lockhart, we made the hour-long drive over to San Antonio to check a few things off our to-see list. We started at the Alamo, which admittedly, we found a little underwhelming. The history of the site was interesting, and we learned a few things about the Texas revolution, but after 30 minutes there, we were ready to move on. To be fair, I think we were both in such a deep beef-induced stupor that I’m not sure anything would have captivated us at that point…

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We had heard good things about the San Antonio Riverwalk, and that sounded like the perfect way to burn some calories, so we parked our car in the city center and took the nearest staircase down to the waterfront. It was beautiful down there – charming cobblestone bridges, lush tropical plantings, umbrella-covered tables. We walked the loop, loving the sense of “urban oasis” that came with the sound of birds calling overhead.

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We happened to be in San Antonio during “fiesta days”, so we followed the sound of live music back up to street level and wandered through the giant street fair taking place adjacent to the central Mercado. A band doing Sublime covers on one stage, a couple of guys crooning smooth Spanish ballads on another, food stands peddling street corn and funnel cakes and fresh fruit – “festive” hardly begins to describe it. I bought a cup of watermelon agua fresca and we took it all in, overwhelmed by the colors and smells and sounds.

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We had hoped to have dinner in the city, but the thought of food was still entirely unappealing at 6 pm, so we headed back to Austin, hoping we’d regain our appetites during the drive back. By 8:30, we felt like we were ready for a snack, so we made our way to Papi Tino’s for a light dinner. The perfect Texas tacos continue to elude Shane, but his margarita was top-notch, and the green sauce on my enchiladas was the best I’ve ever had. Determined to live it up and capitalize on Austin’s vibrant night life, we headed over to Donn’s Depot after dinner to check out their house band, which we’d heard packs out the dance floor every night. We were both surprised and amused to walk into the bar and find ourselves the youngest ones there by nearly 40 years. But it’s true – the house band was hoppin’, and the dance floor was packed, so we ordered drinks and snagged a seat to watch those ol’ cowboys and their poofy-haired ladies strut their stuff.

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Cheers to a day full of so many memorable moments.

One Comment

  1. la v says:

    that’s not a baby bump, that’s a brisket bump! =) looks like a fun, colorful day!