Posts Tagged ‘South by Southwest’

Overlap! but we all love our stax o’ wax

This is another of those years when South by Southwest (March 13-22) and whatever the rodeo’s calling itself this year (Star of Texas Fair & Rodeo, March 13-28) coincide in whole or in part.

When the rodeo used to be at the Coliseum and along the banks of the river, I used to see more of it than the cowboy breakfast and sometimes a parade. I still go out to enjoy the carnival rides and hear some music, but it’s just not so convenient at the new location. On Saturday, March 21, among those taking the outdoor stage will be Los Texmaniacs, who are up here nearly every week from San Antonio, and Los Texas Wranglers, hometown favorites.

It’s easy to tell that Austin attracts those who arrive early for these events and others. They’re already populating South Congress and downtown hotspots and there’s already guidance to our attractions available.

This past Sunday’s NYT travel section focused on places selling turntable fodder (“In Austin, Vinyl Is Still Vital,” byline Joel T. Weickgenant; additional NYT Austin links). I can think of at least three establishments omitted from the annotated list, but the included are Waterloo, End of an Ear, Sound On Sound, Antone’s, and Cheapo. I don’t care how much anybody offers: I’ll never part with my original Blue Horizon albums or my complete Charlie Parker Savoy sessions.

Katz’s unkluttered

We were lucky this morning to be seated without trouble at Katz’s. We all put away astonishingly large quantities of nourishing food, accompanied by real milkshakes, iced coffee, fresh-squeezed fruit juice and more. I won’t say what others ordered, but I went with the all-spud special: four potato pancakes, with applesauce, plus an order of French fries. Katz’s never does close, and there’s food for all. The nearby parking is as ample as the portions.

Lucky to be seated

Sushi Sake, AustinWe didn’t even try to dine downtown last evening. The lodgings were north, so that’s where we sought food and were happy to be seated at a circular table, some us in in a booth and some in chairs, at Sushi Sake. Our party was the last one for a while that didn’t have to wait.

The sushi bar was busy and that’s all I know about that, since we are not ourselves sushi-adept people. Tempura of all sorts was light; we enjoyed our miso and the dressing on the salad. My portion of salmon was very generous. There were several fish specials. The most interesting dish was one from the appetizer section of the menu, chilled spinach with a sesame-seed paste. We all especially enjoyed the gyoza (pan-fried dumplings). Some people order only the dumplings and shrimp tempura.

Service was attentive without being intrusive. The portions were generous. The quiet acoustics make this a good place for a conversation.


Fran’s Hamburger’s, South Congress, AustinPark under the carport, go in, step up to the window and place your order, fill your cup with tea, sit down, and wait for your number to be called.

There’s a jukebox, but there’s usually vintage music coming over the speakers with no need to spend any money. If the jukebox is an option, there’s plenty of Tejano music on it.

I always order French fries. They arrive in a flimsy little paper sack. Tabasco sauce is on every table. The chili cheeseburger is gone from the menu, so those who were fond of it must console themselves with a plain cheeseburger.

Fran’s Hamburgers is for the hungry who can’t wait and for those with tired feet. Skip the lines at Magnolia if either of these two conditions apply to you. Your order is made up just for you, and is usually ready quite quickly. Fran’s, along with the Richard Jones Pit, is a South Congress survivor. Ask for carry-out if that’s what you want. Children are welcome here, too.

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