Well it happened again. We had guests in town and we went on an eating frenzy. Four of Evelyn’s good friends from college came to Austin to check out the city and see Evelyn before our little man gets here. Here’s a recap of how the weekend of indulgence played out.
Time for another for a food round up before a big weekend of eating. Like last time, here’s just a taste of the noteworthy places I ate that I think you should eat too.
Last Friday Evelyn and I went out on a fancy date to the newly-opened La V out on East 7th. The space is beautiful, the service was great (thanks Courtney!), and the food was fantastic. We shared everything and the real standouts were the “grilled baby octopus” (amazing; the best octopus we’ve ever had) and “veal two ways” (exceptional and truly memorable; veal cheek and sweetbreads). The meyer lemon cream dessert might be Ev’s favorite dessert in Austin. The menu changes weekly, so over time everything will phase out to make room for new, seasonal dishes.
And as you’ll notice there are no photos because, and this is important, sometimesmost timesevery time, the company you’re with deserves your attention more than a future blog / Facebook / Twitter post audience. That important fact is something I need to remember much more often.
The next day we met up with friends at Curly’s Carolina, Texas to get Q’ed up. I followed my own advice and got “The Texan”, a brisket-on-bread-and-nothing-else sandwich, and topped it with some wasabi cole slaw. Banana pudding rounded things out for good measure. It was incredible.
After a few days of recovery I stopped by Guac N Roll, who sets up shop at The Draught House on Wednesdays. I tried an experimental tamale featuring Adelbert’s Brewery Naked Nun, Tillamook cheddar, queso fresco & Anaheim peppers. Not quite as good as the standard tamale, but the regular tamale is the best tamale I’ve ever had, every time I have it. But I love that they continue to try new things.
And finally Ev and I went for a walk back over to The Draught House the next night to get a post-dinner snack. We grabbed some always-delicious Chicken Kara’age –deep-fried chicken thigh, sweet-spicy sauce, fresh basil, cilantro (bleh), mint, onion, jalapeño– and the daily special “Broccoli Two Ways” –shaved stalk & dehydrated florets, togarashi candied peanuts, nori paper, yuzu, mixed herbs, Thai coconut dressing. Both were great and hit the spot.
And now, if you’ll excuse me, we have guests coming to town, so it’s time to loosen the belt a notch.
UPDATE: Sadly, Curly’s Carolina, TX has permanently closed in September 2014.
photo credit: Texas Monthly BBQ
Texas has always been the center of barbecue in the country. Anyone who disagrees, well, isn’t from Texas. In the past few years there has been a resurgence of great BBQ, particularly here in Central Texas, with new places pushing the envelope. To succeed in this market that values tradition and consistency, you also need to innovate. And that’s where Curly’s Carolina, TX comes in.
Curly’s Carolina, TX is a coming-together of two former Austin-area BBQ food trailers. Hall of Flame BBQ brings its old school Texas style while Curly’s Perfect Pig shows off its Carolina roots. The menu offers each style on its own as well as mash-ups combining the two for something you can’t find anywhere else. Pitmaster Jay Yates is one of the nicest guys in the business, and he’s brought great barbecue to the I-35 corridor in Round Rock, Texas.
The space is large, with two dining rooms and a large patio out back. There’s even a dedicated parking lot behind the restaurant, making it easier for you to get great food into your mouth even faster.
As for that great food, from experience I can say that literally everything is worth your money. If you’re looking for that traditional, pinch-me-I-think-I’m-dreaming meal, go with the brisket. I prefer mine on a sandwich (called The Texan), but as long as you’re getting some brisket, it doesn’t matter how it’s served. They’re using USDA Prime meat and smoke it all through the night to make sure your meat can barely hold itself together. The rub they use is a secret blend with salt, pepper, brown sugar, and a whole slew of other spices. And it’s amazing.
If you want to try something a little less traditional, but no less delicious, I recommend the Carolina Quesadilla. As a matter of fact, you should order it every time and share one as an appetizer. And then order another just for you. They fill stuff a huge flour tortilla with their Carolina pulled pork, smoked Gouda cheese, and poblano peppers, top it with a chipotle-avocado sauce, sour cream, a little more cheese, and serve it with a side of pickled onions. No Tex-Mex joint can touch this quesadilla. Trust me.
At most BBQ spots, the sides are forgettable. Not here though. The fried okra, wasabi cole slaw (yep.), hushpuppies, and fried green tomatoes are all worthy companions to your meat(s) of choice. Keep an eye on their Specials board to see what else they have that day.
And no matter what you do –I’m serious here, so pay attention– be sure to order the banana pudding for dessert. Oh man, it’s indescribable. It’s like… …
But really, it’s creamy and satisfying and light and if you catch it on a special day, they smoke the bananas before placing them on top. Do it.
And here are a few additional shots of what Curly’s has to offer:
You can let your friends stand in 3 hour lines, be greeted by “Sold Out” signs, and fret over who has “the best” barbecue, but you’ll know the secret to avoiding all those things sits just up the highway.
112 Main Street
Round Rock, TX 78664
Hours of Operation
Tues. & Wed. 11 am – 2 pm, or until sold out
Hours: Thurs. – Sat. 11 am – 7 pm, or until sold out
Good things happen to good people. A few months ago I had a barbecue epiphany when I tasted some mighty fine Carolina pulled pork at Curly’s Perfect Pig. Well after my first eye-opening experience, Curly’s was making plans to relocate to bigger and better things. Once a lone trailer in the parking lot of a mediocre restaurant near UT campus, Curly’s now finds itself as the anchor of the newest (and only) food trailer lot in Round Rock.
Texas is BBQ country. Beef barbecue to be clear, but you already knew that. You find your classic beef brisket, chopped beef, and beef short ribs basically anywhere you go. So what happens when a little Carolina ‘cue comes to town and starts making waves? Well Curly’s Perfect Pig is doing just that, bringing Carolina barbecue, aka pork barbecue, to the cattle-hungry Texans of Austin.