austxmex.jpgJust writing “AusTex” brings a nostalgic tear to the eye in memory of the old AusTex Lounge (now housing the Magnolia Cafe on South Congress). But that’s just a detour from the business at hand, which is to proclaim that anyone wanting a panoramic snapshot of Austin caught in time as embodied in its Mexican restaurants must buy this book.

This has Aus-Tex-Mex, general Tex-Mex, Mex-Mex, and every permutation. The cleverest thing is to undertake this project at all; the second-cleverest is the design of the little ideograms or icons marking each individual review. These include a wheeled taco and a hand sprouting botanical material from its thumb (you must see the book to know what these mean). Black-and-white photographs, unfortunately without labels, embellish the text handsomely and atmospherically. The interleaved essays are of varying quality. The copy-editing leaves something to be desired. The reviews are not always of the most informative; the reviews are highly idiosyncratic; the reviews sometimes tend more toward descriptions of the atmosphere than of the food. But the genius of this publication, and it is genius, lies in the inclusiveness.

So, sincere thanks go to the Dirty Lowdown Press and all those who contributed to “Mexican Food in Austin: The Guide.” Having seen this book on sale at locations all over town and having resisted buying it for months, I finally weakened at Mexic-Arte and bought a copy, which I read from cover to cover in one go, sparking discussion with every entry read aloud. Have one of these on hand to entertain your out-of-town visitors. Hope that it’s kept reprinted and updated.

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