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Texas Loop Recs DFW-Houston-SanAntonio-Austin

Texas Loop Recs DFW-Houston-SanAntonio-Austin
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  • Texas Loop Recs DFW-Houston-SanAntonio-Austin

    Post #1 - February 19th, 2008, 11:17 am
    Post #1 - February 19th, 2008, 11:17 am Post #1 - February 19th, 2008, 11:17 am
    [Edit -- look down about 10 entries for experiences]
    Partly because of cheap airfares, we're flying to Dallas, and planning on driving about 1000 miles in a week, down to Austin, San Antonio, Corpus Christi (I've got a baaaad jones for a walk on a beach), Houston and back again.

    There's lots of BBQ rec's here, is there anything else not to be missed? Anything in the coastal region, in particular? Seafood specialties?
    Last edited by JoelF on February 27th, 2008, 7:29 pm, edited 2 times in total.
    What is patriotism, but the love of good things we ate in our childhood?
    -- Lin Yutang
  • Post #2 - February 19th, 2008, 11:53 am
    Post #2 - February 19th, 2008, 11:53 am Post #2 - February 19th, 2008, 11:53 am
    In Houston, I really like Otilia's, a home style New Mexican place located in a former What A Burger over on Long Point Road off of the Katy Freeway. Unlike most Houston places, which serve Tex Mex, Otilia's is differently fresh and wonderful. The cream of poblano soup is just amazing. it is a very simple place with really good food.

    Otilia's
    7710 Long Point Rd.
    Houston, TX 77055
    713-681-7203
  • Post #3 - February 19th, 2008, 1:17 pm
    Post #3 - February 19th, 2008, 1:17 pm Post #3 - February 19th, 2008, 1:17 pm
    I have pages of recommendations when I get home this evening.

    Here is a resource that has been helpful for restaurants throughout Texas:

    http://www.dallasfood.org/index.php

    My only comment to your trip is that you are covering a lot of territory in a short period and you won't get a good chance to cover any of the areas very well. Personally, I would pick two or three of the destinations and spend more time there.
  • Post #4 - February 19th, 2008, 2:53 pm
    Post #4 - February 19th, 2008, 2:53 pm Post #4 - February 19th, 2008, 2:53 pm
    I forget exactly where in the Dallas area it's at... but definitely hit up Weck's for breakfast.

    Make sure you get the Carnitas: a mountain of hash browns smothered in carnitas and sauce with bell peppers and an egg on top. It's delicious and huge (you can seriuosly feed up to 3 people with one plate).
  • Post #5 - February 19th, 2008, 3:02 pm
    Post #5 - February 19th, 2008, 3:02 pm Post #5 - February 19th, 2008, 3:02 pm
    jlawrence01 wrote:My only comment to your trip is that you are covering a lot of territory in a short period and you won't get a good chance to cover any of the areas very well. Personally, I would pick two or three of the destinations and spend more time there.

    We're from the "Look, kids, there's Big Ben" school of driving vacations (and this trip is without the kids). We know we won't do everything well, and we are definitely limited by having both ends of our vacation in DFW, solely due to economics ($246 round trip versus twice that for other Texas destinations). Then again, we did 2500 miles in 14 days three years ago, counting five canyons and at least another 6 national parks and monuments. 1000 miles in 7 seems like a peach in comparison.

    Our original idea was to include New Orleans, since given up as another 400 miles added to the itinerary.

    Goals:
    Music in Austin, at least a night of it.
    The Alamo in San Antonio, only because it's on the way to Corpus Christi
    ... which is the best chance at a beach where the weather is nice (my requirement)
    The Lucy exhibit in Houston, perhaps the Johnson Space Center

    We know we can find fine dining in Dallas, good BBQ in the Austin-S.A. corridor, and probably gulf shrimp on the coast. I'll check out Dallasfood, definitely.
    What is patriotism, but the love of good things we ate in our childhood?
    -- Lin Yutang
  • Post #6 - February 19th, 2008, 3:43 pm
    Post #6 - February 19th, 2008, 3:43 pm Post #6 - February 19th, 2008, 3:43 pm
    No problem. I always fly into Houston when heading down to the Rio Grande Valley or to Lafayette, LA.

    $246 to Dallas is a good fare. I haven't seen much for less in the past year or two.

    I do not know when you are going but if you will be in Houston in March, you need to look at the Houston Livestock and Rodeo Show. For a $15 admission, you get the equivalent of a state fair, a rodeo session and a top-line concert. When we were there, the nightly entertainment was The Judds (granted, not MY first choice, but my wife loved it). The cheapest ticket for The Judds in Dallas the next night, was $35 PP.

    The Corpus Christi beaches (five separate public beaches) are not as good as at S. Padre Island BUT the Coastline up the coast to Port Aransas is really great.
  • Post #7 - February 19th, 2008, 4:18 pm
    Post #7 - February 19th, 2008, 4:18 pm Post #7 - February 19th, 2008, 4:18 pm
    We're going next week - we're constrained by a number of work events, and it was now or never. So far, it looks like we'll miss the Houston Livestock and Rodeo Show (March 3-22), the Austin SxSW (March 9-18) and Chocolate Festival (week of March 8). No crowds is a good thing.
    What is patriotism, but the love of good things we ate in our childhood?
    -- Lin Yutang
  • Post #8 - February 19th, 2008, 8:29 pm
    Post #8 - February 19th, 2008, 8:29 pm Post #8 - February 19th, 2008, 8:29 pm
    Not sure if your travels will get you anywhere near this place, but if so, do a little research, and see if it might interest you. I've never seen a bad comment posted about it. It was a dive when I was there last, but for cheap eats, I can't say I've had better soul food outside of my gramma's or mother's kitchens, and I've tried PLENTY.
    We cannot be friends if you do not know the difference between Mayo and Miracle Whip.
  • Post #9 - February 19th, 2008, 9:54 pm
    Post #9 - February 19th, 2008, 9:54 pm Post #9 - February 19th, 2008, 9:54 pm
    Here are some ideas from my past trips into the area.

    SAN ANTONIO

    Mi Tierra Cafe & Bakery
    218 Produce Row,
    San Antonio (Market Square)

    We went there with lower expectations as this would be considered a "tourist spot" that makes all the guide books. What we found was a fine Mexican restaurant that served an excellent breakfast that catered to many large family groups. We did the Machacado which was a great omelette that was made with beef jerky. It was a great dish with a good deal of heat offset by the eggs. My wife had the Chilaquiles Famosos which was quite good. The service was very homey and attentive.

    Outside the dining room is a bakery. We picked up a few pecan pralines and a candied sweet potato which was unique but tasty.

    Mama's Café 2 -
    2442 Nacogdoches Road
    San Antonio TX 78217-6023
    Tel: 210-826-8303

    This is a local chain. We were sent here by a Marriott Courtyard front desk clerk who was a fountain of GREAT restaurant ideas. While the exterior loos like any of a dozen diner chains, the food is very solid and the portions are extreme.


    Alsatian Restaurant
    1403 Angelo St
    Castroville, TX 78009
    (830) 931-3260

    Located about 35 miles out of San Antonio, this restaurant seres a good variety of German foods and steaks. Run a Mapquest as the place is hard to find. It is located adjacent to the Catholic Church. They have a large wine list and the dining room provides a good atmosphere.


    AUSTIN

    I have never had very good luck in Austin. The food tends to be more expensive than the other Texas cities. However, it is a good jump off to BBQ joints.

    Our favorites have been the Luling City Market (there is a great pottery stand in the Luling Ice Market), the three places in Lockhart, TX, and teh Southside Market in Elgin, TX.

    Stop at the HEB Central Market for breakfast as well as a great grocery shopping experience.

    There are a lot of good walking trips along the river.

    CORPUS CHRISTI

    There are a couple of recommendations.

    Snoopy's Pier is located along the water and has a great deck out back. It is a real casual place. The seafood - fresh and fried - is very fresh and very good.

    In nearby Rockport is Mac's BBQ which is pretty decent but a step below the Austin places.

    CC has some pretty rough neighborhoods and is a well worn refinery town.



    BRENHAM (between Houston and San Antonio)

    Blue Bell Ice Cream Plant Tour
    1101 South Blue Bell Road
    Brenham, Texas 77833
    Tour Information:
    Brenham, Texas

    Tours are weekdays only.

    800-327-8135

    Weekday Tour Times: 10:00 a.m., 11:00 a.m., 1:00 p.m.,
    1:30 p.m., 2:00 p.m., 2:30 p.m.
    Admission Costs (Includes a serving of Blue Bell ice cream):
    General Admission $3.00
    Senior Citizens (55+) and Children (6 to 14) $2.00
  • Post #10 - February 20th, 2008, 10:44 am
    Post #10 - February 20th, 2008, 10:44 am Post #10 - February 20th, 2008, 10:44 am
    JoelF - as for Austin, there are some non-BBQ recommendations in this thread which you may have already seen, but if you have anything particular in mind, let me know and I'll be happy to throw out a few specific ideas.
  • Post #11 - February 26th, 2008, 10:03 pm
    Post #11 - February 26th, 2008, 10:03 pm Post #11 - February 26th, 2008, 10:03 pm
    Day 1 - flew in and was close to noon by the time we got the car.
    Stopped at a Whataburger on the way out of Dallas. Very nice. Beats the King and the Clown by a mile, but you're spending 2-3X for a (bigger, better) burger. Danger: Sweet Tea will suck all the moisture out of your tongue, leaving you thirstier than you started.

    Made it to Houston. Paging through several guides including AAA, decided to try Arcodoro in the tony Galleria area
    www.arcodoro.com
    5000 Westheimer Rd # 120
    Houston, TX 77056
    (713) 621-6888
    Excellent Italian food with Sardinian specialties; not so excellent prices (the food below was for two of us)
    “Panadeddas” di Cinghiale al Piccante were described as fried ravioli of boar, more like empanadas. Very, very good, large portion.
    Agnelotti Dorati are ravioli-like pastas stuffed with buffalo ricotta and black truffles, with a foie gras and white wine reduction. Outstanding, but for $24 I expected more than 7 of them.
    Costolette d’Agnello alle Mandorle are lamb chops with an almond crust. Still not a lot of food, but wasn't expecting much with lamb. Delicious, almost a marzipan crust.
    SeadaDesert made up for the hunger -- a fried dough filled with cheese and drizzled with bitter honey. The surprise was that the cheese is provolone, and if it wasn't for the coffee gelato served with it, it could have been an appetizer.

    The portions are designed, it appears, for a primi and a secondi per diner -- not what we were expecting to spend. Delicious, but we walked out wanting a bit more.

    Tuesday -- Saw the Lucy fossil exhibit at the Houston Museum of Natural Science, then booked out of town for the Johnson Space Center. Space Chili in their food court not so great -- bland and scorchingly high in temperature. Otherwise, a nice place to visit, but I can't see going back frequently (they offer an annual pass for the price of the visit + parking).
    Then down to Galveston. Gaido's is a huge place -- they own three restaurants and a hotel. Outstanding service, lots of food for the price.
    http://www.gaidosofgalveston.com/restaraunts.html
    3802 Seawall Blvd
    Galveston TX 77550
    800-525-0064
    See Galveston.com for menus
    They offer a complete dinner with half-portions of a number of entrees for $19.99, or $6.99 over the normal entree prices. Fish prepared with a number of different sauces at different prices too. Even half portions are substantial when you throw in bread, soup, salad, side dish and dessert (my side of pasta and the majority of MrsF's pasta once the shrimp were gone are left over for on-the-road food). I had grouper in "Nick" sauce, which was avocado and pepper cream sauce with several large shrimp and garnished with pecans and ribbons of colored tortilla. Heavier than the splash of cream sauce and slivers of avocado and peppers I'd pictured from the menu, but delicious.
    Desserts included a very good key lime pie, and a double pecan pie, with a pecan crust and whole glazed pecans pressed into the entire surface.
    Highly recommended.
    What is patriotism, but the love of good things we ate in our childhood?
    -- Lin Yutang
  • Post #12 - February 27th, 2008, 7:35 pm
    Post #12 - February 27th, 2008, 7:35 pm Post #12 - February 27th, 2008, 7:35 pm
    Day 3 - Galveston to Luling: After a walk on the (cold) beach and some birdwatching at Galveston State Park, left for points west. Ate leftovers from last night for lunch, so nothing to report there. Brief stop at Buc-ee's, a Wall Drug wannabee, needs to go a lot further to justify the 500 billboards between Houston and Luling. Kolache was nothing special, just a Danish, so far as I can tell.

    Made camp outside Luling, then drove to Lockhart for the pilgrimage. We arrived after 5PM, and figuring Smitty's, which closes at 6 would be out of most stuff, we went to Black's. Out-freakin'-standing. I've never eaten so much smoke in my life. Tender brisket, tasty (although I'm not fond of the texture) garlic sausage, chewy and smoky enormous pork ribs. Sides of cornbread, baked potato, mac'n'cheese, slaw were all fine (nice spice to the cornbread). Sauce is worthless -- nothing special, and definitely not needed on the moist and flavorful meats. Note: Black's was nearly empty: only two other sets of patrons were in there while we were. But on the way back to Luling, Chisolm Trail Lockhart Barbecue was packed, both the lot and the drive-thru. A new player emerges?

    Tomorrow, canoeing the San Marcos and perhaps dinner at the Dripping Springs Salt Lick unless we get caught up in San Antonio.
    What is patriotism, but the love of good things we ate in our childhood?
    -- Lin Yutang
  • Post #13 - February 28th, 2008, 9:07 pm
    Post #13 - February 28th, 2008, 9:07 pm Post #13 - February 28th, 2008, 9:07 pm
    Day 4: Camped near Luling and woke up freakin' cold. Frost on the ground, toes stiff. Had breakfast at La Carreta in Luling. Bacon-Egg tacos for MrsF, Mexicana special (big wad of scrambled eggs with peppers and tomatoes in them with tortillas, bacon, potatoes). With a huge glass of milk and (instant) cocoa between us, came to $11. Wonderful warm filling meal. It appears to be where everyone breaks their fast in town.

    Lunch was a peanut butter sammich and an orange while kayaking (not canoing) the San Marcos river. The day warmed up nicely, and was 81F by the time we reached San Antonio (with a brief wander around Gruene, an historic little town now full of knickknacks, antiques and restaurants), a couple gourmet shops with samples (bought some toffee and spiced pecans), and a so-called soda fountain that just had a Coca Cola dispenser and Blue Bell ice cream.

    Dinner in San Antonio was at Acenar on the Riverwalk (NW corner).
    http://acenar.com/
    146 E Houston St
    San Antonio, TX 78205
    (210) 222-2362
    Very, very good food. From the empanadas with slices of avocado and choped tomatoes (red and green salsa on the plate both had some kick), a nice cactus juice margarita and sangria to start us off, MrsF had Duck Crepes which were outstanding and full of fresh zingy flavor, and my pork loin with two moles was perfectly tender, with a spinach-sweet potato tamale (more like polenta, but you won't catch me whining). Service was atentitve, prices reasonable (entrees around $15. The recent whining about Topo/Frontera I think missed a point: Bayless is going for autentico, when he needs to focus a little more on inspiration from the bounty of Mexican cuisine.

    Back into hill country tomorrow after a trip to the Alamo.
    What is patriotism, but the love of good things we ate in our childhood?
    -- Lin Yutang
  • Post #14 - March 1st, 2008, 8:59 pm
    Post #14 - March 1st, 2008, 8:59 pm Post #14 - March 1st, 2008, 8:59 pm
    Day 5: After a stroll to the Alamo, and a Shipley's donut (nicely crunchy glaze, much better custard than Dunkin in the bavarian) we crossed town to the Market Square -- lots of cool shops, MrsF bought some Incan Jewelry. A bean/avocado gordita from a stand was very nice, along with a huge (that was labeled small) watermelon juice. Later that day in Fredricksburg, excellent ice cream at a shop I forget the name of -- they make their own.

    Dinner was at the Salt Lick in Driftwood. After going to the barbecue Mecca of Lockhart's for Black's, this felt like going to Detroit where there's just a large population in the suburbs. Although SL's sausage was about the best smoked sausage I've had in my life, the brisket just wasn't stunning. It was tender, moist, flavorful, but nothing like the smoked heaven at Black's. Good pickles, potato salad, slaw... but without an awesome brisket I can't heartily endorse it. Blackberry cobbler was too sweet for me, and I was disappointed that it had a cake-like crust rather than a pie-like one (Cathy2 will probably tell me "That's what makes it cobbler, silly!")

    Day 6: Lunch at El Sol y La Luna in Austin on South Congress. Great neighborhood for cool stores. Nice exemplars of Tex-Mex but nothing stunning.
    Dinner at Chez Zee
    5406 Balcones Dr.
    Austin Tx 78731
    512-454-2666
    http://www.chez-zee.com
    Very good food, known for their desserts. Fried pickles as an appetizer were better than the ones I'd had at Uber Burger in Evanston (sorry Greg), thin and crisp with three sauces (ranch, chipotle ranch and tartar). MrsF's Aztec Corn and Shrimp Bisque was outstanding, my caesar salad was pretty ordinary. Her spinach salad with a warm bacon dressing and a NY Strip outclassed my Jalapeno Cornbread stuffed chicken brest (I did not order wisely tonight). Dessert was brownie bites. Just 4 tiny cubes to top off a filling meal. Service was a little condescending (I was inquiring about their inexpensive wines, and he really didn't want to talk about them). Note: The advertised live jazz is just a guy at a piano that's drowned out by room noise.

    One more day, probably not much good chow, as we'll spend most of it driving back to Dallas. Happy trails everybody.
    What is patriotism, but the love of good things we ate in our childhood?
    -- Lin Yutang
  • Post #15 - April 7th, 2008, 10:06 pm
    Post #15 - April 7th, 2008, 10:06 pm Post #15 - April 7th, 2008, 10:06 pm
    I went to Austin for the weekend a week ago. It is a great food city.

    The first day we went to Guero's Taco Bar on South Congress--a place with lots of recommendations and press, but we didn't love it. The most tasty bit was a pina colada--I'm pretty sure they used real coconut in the blend. They also provide green, red, and fresh tomato salsa--all three quite good. I ordered the enchiladas--one with cheese and mole and the other spinach, mushroom and a roasted jalapeño sauce. I enjoyed it--the mole sauce was very complicated with a good balance between nuts and chocolate. My gf, remarkably, ordered poorly (she usually makes me jealous). She got a sad mix of chile queso (which is melted cheese and chiles, not chili), quac and some bits of chicken. She also got some pork tacos, but reports they were just ok--the pinapple was on top and didn't infiltrate the meat in the way she expected. Neither of us thought the place was amazing, and it was too filling.

    The next day, we went to an Indian Buffet before going to see a movie. Star of India rivaled all the buffets I've been to on Divan. They had a kidney bean/cucumber salad that was very fresh. My gf appreciated that they used white meat on the tandori chicken. The curry vegetable dish packed some heat--which is unusual on a buffet. All the dishes were fresh and prepared well. It was an amazing find and I wish it were in Chicago.

    I mentioned the movie because it was at Alamo Cinema. This place is great. They've removed every other row of seats so they can include a row of tables. They serve food (which we were too full to try), wine, beer and tea. It was a really cool experience and very laid back. I was glad to be able to order a beer when Daniel Day Lewis was half way through chewing scenery in "There Will Be Blood." It took the edge off the angst. Again, I wish Chicago had a place like it.

    That night we went to a steak restaurant for the gf. The Austin Land and Cattle company is near the University. The decor reminds me of a middle class couple trying to spruce up a basement den. But the food and service was great. I started with an interesting take on a wedge salad. They had romaine instead of iceberg and a nice balance between cheese and other vegetables. Amazingly, they had a vegetarian option--a portabella mushroom -- this is beyond rare for a good steak house. They included a skewer and a side of very garlicy garlic mushrooms. The gf got a New York strip, ordered between medium and medium rare--it was closer to the medium side than she liked, but she enjoyed it. Her sides were carrots. It was odd--both the sides were "chef's choice" which we assumed meant what was in season. Instead, it was just the choice of the chef. I wish WE had the choice instead, but we switched around, so it was fine. Dessert was a very good raspberry individual pie, the top was a crumble instead of pastry, but still quite good.

    The last night we went to Vespaio's sister restaurant which is attached and more casual. It was an amazing meal. The service was excellent. To start, the waitress helped us select wine, giving us several tastes from different bottles. We shared a salad with a dulce blue cheese. For the second we both got pasta. The gf got gnocci, which were luscious light pillows, handmade on location. They were too light for her taste, but I thought they were great. I had a pasta dish with eggplant--very good. The pasta was thick with fresh garlic, and the eggplant was fried with fresh cheese. I loved it. My only reservation is that all the savory dishes were strong--no hint of subtlety. The garlic was strong, the onion was strong. Delicious, but, well, strong. Still it was a great meal. Dessert was another berry pie. We liked it so much that we came back the next day to order out a cheese plate and salad for a picnic lunch. It's probably a good thing that it isn't in Chicago--just too good.

    Overall, Austin is a delight. I was so surprised at how much I liked it. Go on down and get more than barbecue--(I hear it's good too.)

    Guero's Taco Bar
    1412 S. Congress

    Star of India
    2900 W. Anderson Lane

    Austin Land and Cattle Company
    1205 N. Lamar

    Vespaio
    1610 S. Congress.
  • Post #16 - April 8th, 2008, 8:25 am
    Post #16 - April 8th, 2008, 8:25 am Post #16 - April 8th, 2008, 8:25 am
    veghound wrote:The first day we went to Guero's Taco Bar on South Congress--a place with lots of recommendations and press, but we didn't love it.


    I'll second the non-recommendation for Guero's. The restaurant has a place in cinematic history (Grindhouse--"Death Proof"), but is not the place to go to for Tex-Mex in a city packed with other options. I'd go back for chips and salsa and the margaritas.

    In San Antonio recommendations, I'd add the local favorite Liberty Bar to the list. A few wild meats (boar, venison) on the menu, with some frou-frou details, but very tasty.

    No trip to San Antonio is complete without at least one "puffy taco"--a regular gringo taco, but the corn tortilla "shell" is deep-fried and puffs up. Not crunchy, like a hard taco shell. Crispy, like a savory pastry shell. After a beer-soaked evening, I don't quite remember where the one I shoveled down came from, but Henry's Puffy Tacos is "home of the original puffy taco in San Antonio since 1978" (although there's some dispute over how long the puffy taco has actually been around).

    For authentic Mexican seafood, Siete Mares is the spot. Fresh, punchy ceviches, caldo and whole fish. The pictures of the food are too dark, but here's what the place looks like:

    Image

    Although there are plenty other authentic ice houses to choose from, La Tuna is a good place to grab a cold one. Live music on weekends, a good fish taco, and very friendly local hangout.

    Liberty Bar
    328 East Josephine St.
    San Antonio, Texas 78215
    Tel: (210) 227-1187

    Siete Mares
    3831 W Commerce St
    San Antonio
    (210) 436-6056

    La Tuna
    100 Probandt
    San Antonio, TX 78204
    (210) 224-8862
  • Post #17 - April 18th, 2008, 8:38 am
    Post #17 - April 18th, 2008, 8:38 am Post #17 - April 18th, 2008, 8:38 am
    Stop in New Braunfels, which is just off the highway just north of San Antonio, and hit up Naeglin's Bakery.
    http://www.naegelins.com/

    Naeglin's Bakery is the oldest bakery in TX, and we stopped there on our trip down to the Alamo this year. Ask the women behind the counter what they recommend, and they'll provide fantastically sarcastic service. The place is full of character. I loved the German pretzel thing, but the best of all was the thick, warm, and soft gingerbread man. Mmmmm.

    Kacie
  • Post #18 - October 14th, 2008, 8:52 pm
    Post #18 - October 14th, 2008, 8:52 pm Post #18 - October 14th, 2008, 8:52 pm
    JoelF wrote:Day 5: After a stroll to the Alamo, and a Shipley's donut (nicely crunchy glaze, much better custard than Dunkin in the bavarian).


    From a trip to Hattiesburg, Mississippi:

    Image
    Cathy2

    "You'll be remembered long after you're dead if you make good gravy, mashed potatoes and biscuits." -- Nathalie Dupree
    Facebook, Twitter, Greater Midwest Foodways, Road Food 2012: Podcast
  • Post #19 - March 31st, 2019, 8:53 am
    Post #19 - March 31st, 2019, 8:53 am Post #19 - March 31st, 2019, 8:53 am
    What Would Texas Be Without Buc-ee’s?

    https://www.nytimes.com/2019/03/30/styl ... -ios-share
    Hors D'oeuvre: A ham sandwich cut into forty pieces.
    - Jack Benny

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