Austin, Texas

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I have no idea where you are right now, which is probably quite a relief to learn, but I am pretty sure that wherever it is, it probably isn’t as cool as Austin, Texas.

I recently had the pleasure of spending a few days in Austin. My wife was a delegate at the recent Texas Democratic Convention. As I was not, nor was I particularly interested in the proceedings, I had a lot of time to wander aimlessly through the streets of one of my favorite places on earth. Four days of eating, drinking, people watching and exploring. I had a ball.

The trip started with great BBQ and ended with the greatest BBQ I have ever tasted. In between there was even more BBQ. Oh, and wine. Lots of wine. Also, some beer and a whole lot of other food. Over the next few days I will be posting about some of the experiences I had in Austin.

The first one, as is fitting, happened on the way there. My wife and I were getting quite hungry. We decided to try one of the small BBQ joints that dot the side of the Highway 71 between Houston and Austin and settled on an establishment called “Peter’s BBQ” in a little town called Ellinger. Peter’s looks like what a Texas BBQ shack should look like, so we pulled in.

To set the scene properly, I should tell you that I was wearing a Detroit Red Wings Stanley Cup Championship shirt and my wife had on a “Texans For Obama” t-shirt. The crowd of locals turned and stared at us. I guess it was quite apparent that we weren’t from around those parts. Scenes from “Easy Rider” began playing in my head accompanied by Charlie Daniel’s “Uneasy Rider” as a soundtrack.

It would be an understatement to say that I wasn’t feeling particularly welcome at this point, but decided that, screw it, the food smelled and looked incredible, the locals could burn their eyes on us for all I cared. I was frickin’ hungry. So, we headed up to the counter to order.

The two folks behind the counter could not have been friendlier, and that eventually extended to all of the people we found working there. Just plain nice people. So, we both ordered some sliced brisket and were told to help ourselves to all of the sides and fixings we wanted in the main room. We took our food into the other room, where we still seemed to be quite an attraction for the gentlemen seated there, and saw two full tables of food laid out. The sides and fixings were extraordinary and plentiful. Everything from jalapenos and onions to three different kinds of beans and potato salad, all of it very good. There was even an assortment of desserts ranging from banana pudding to cobbler. Amazingly, this vast array of food was constantly being added to. Even more amazing is that it all cost $7.95.

The BBQ was fantastic, as well. The brisket was tender as could be, and visibly juicy. It had a nice thick smoke ring that delivered with plenty of flavor. After a few bites I forgot about the good old boys staring at me, and eventually they seemed to forget about us. Soon more, and much friendlier acting, people came in and the buffet kept being replenished.

I wish Peter’s had a Web site that I could provide a link for, but it doesn’t seem that they do. The best I can do is give their physical address. 301 Hwy 71, Ellinger, Tx. Even if I was certain that the same group of surly locals were going to be staring at me every time, I will be stopping at this place on every trip to Austin. Great BBQ!

I didn’t know it at the time, but there were even greater culinary adventures coming.