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  • Post #31 - April 25th, 2014, 5:35 pm
    Post #31 - April 25th, 2014, 5:35 pm Post #31 - April 25th, 2014, 5:35 pm
    Sonoma Howie and I are hanging out in Austin and environs. Hit Salt Lick and Lockhart today. Gorgeous weather: sun, warmth, and bluebonnets blooming everywhere.

    The setup at Salt Lick is excellent, with blooming roses everywhere, new vineyards surrounding, and the wine tasting open. Wines are clean, well-made, with some interesting variations, for example, not one, but *two* GSMs. Obviously not a great match for bbq–but great to drink with something nice at home. Get the Shiner Bock for the bbq.

    Everything was tasty, and I was surprised at how different the ribs were in texture and humidity, compared to KC ribs, say at Okie Joe's. But quite enjoyable. Brisket was very good, nice smoke. Sides nothing to write home about.

    Went to Lockhart by back roads, excellent drive out in the country. Drove slowly all around the town, just dropped-jaw'd at the lovely, superbly maintained old architecture. And the courthouse just gob-smacked me–the last place this be-towered and colorfully fanciful that I saw was St. Basil's in the Kremlin. Loved the town!

    We stopped in front of the firehouse to ask a fireman directions to Kreuz. He said "go look, but don't eat there--it's for tourists. Go where we go: Smitty's." So we did just that. Man, friendly, minimalist, get your meet amongst the smoke whirls, step back into the lunch room for sides and drinks. Wonderfully plain-business. Best brisket I've ever had in my life: exquisite smokiness, really meaty, tender, flavorful, fun-to-chew goodness. Excellent.

    We'll be following the paths blazed for us by our LTH pathfinders (see above), thinking particularly (as always) of the trajectory of our own famous Da Beef!

    Onward, ever onward!

    Geo
    Sooo, you like wine and are looking for something good to read? Maybe *this* will do the trick! :)
  • Post #32 - April 26th, 2014, 2:52 pm
    Post #32 - April 26th, 2014, 2:52 pm Post #32 - April 26th, 2014, 2:52 pm
    Mellizoz Taco's fried avocado taco is the best taco I've ever had. (Not my first rodeo, btw: my first taco was had by my house in Sacramento in 1957.) Howie's shrimp taco comes in second. And we had a wonderful 15-minute conversation with one of the owners, in the end managing to convince her that a visit to Guaymas would be wonderful. :)


    Geo
    Sooo, you like wine and are looking for something good to read? Maybe *this* will do the trick! :)
  • Post #33 - April 28th, 2014, 10:44 am
    Post #33 - April 28th, 2014, 10:44 am Post #33 - April 28th, 2014, 10:44 am
    So, final report. On the initial recommendation of Das, plus some good words from locals, Howie and I ventured the twenty or so miles east of town to Elgin TX, home of the acclaimed Southside Market and BBQ Big ol' place, utilitarian but pleasant enough, two huge dining halls with long tables. Cafeteria-style ordering, two lines. Usual offerings, but bulked out by turkey and mutton. I got the mutton+sausage plate, Howie the brisket plate. Slaw, beans and potato salad. Slaw tasted funny, the beans were less than noticeable, the potato salad was the single best side we had had. The brisket (and, nicely enough, burnt end) was chewy, but on the pieces with some fat, very nicely smoked and flavored. Well worth ordering. The sausage had a nice pop, and decent texture, but not much flavor. Then there was the mutton! Oh Boy! Better than anything I ever had in Kentucky, even better than the Moonlight: really flavorful smoky bark, wonderful texture, very very smoky lambishness. Wow! single best piece of bbq we had in Austin. Just super!

    Last night we went for Tex-Mex. Putting all of our university, grad and med skule research skills into operation, we settled upon
    Trudy's Texas Star. Nailed that one cold! Just absolutely first-rate. Immediately noticeable was the fact that all the working folks were happy, helpful, and were totally working together, from the greeter to the servers to the manager--who came over at one point to talk to us about one of our orders. This was a very well-run operation. The menu is clever: pick a covering--enchilada, burrito, relleno--then pick a filling. I got a relleno with suiza on the outside and chipotle-smoked brisket on the inside. Simply fabuluous: everything was fresh, perfectly prepared, and exactly right. Obviously, everything was made to order from excellent ingredients. This was one superb dining experience. Absolutely, totally recommended!

    Four days in and around Austin: can't beat it with a stick!

    Geo
    Sooo, you like wine and are looking for something good to read? Maybe *this* will do the trick! :)
  • Post #34 - May 4th, 2014, 12:24 pm
    Post #34 - May 4th, 2014, 12:24 pm Post #34 - May 4th, 2014, 12:24 pm
    Geo wrote:We stopped in front of the firehouse to ask a fireman directions to Kreuz. He said "go look, but don't eat there--it's for tourists. Go where we go: Smitty's." So we did just that.



    I made a trip to Lockhart last year and tried Kreuz, Smitty's and Blacks. I tried brisket, sausage and ribs at each. IMHO (non scientific) food and ambiance was vastly superior at Smitty's, Kreuz was second best (but not even close) and Blacks was the worst of the three. I did purchase t-shirts from each which I proudly wear. Blacks has the best t-shirt btw.
  • Post #35 - May 4th, 2014, 1:13 pm
    Post #35 - May 4th, 2014, 1:13 pm Post #35 - May 4th, 2014, 1:13 pm
    Geo wrote: Last night we went for Tex-Mex. Putting all of our university, grad and med skule research skills into operation, we settled upon
    Trudy's Texas Star. Nailed that one cold! Just absolutely first-rate. Immediately noticeable was the fact that all the working folks were happy, helpful, and were totally working together, from the greeter to the servers to the manager--who came over at one point to talk to us about one of our orders. This was a very well-run operation. The menu is clever: pick a covering--enchilada, burrito, relleno--then pick a filling. I got a relleno with suiza on the outside and chipotle-smoked brisket on the inside. Simply fabuluous: everything was fresh, perfectly prepared, and exactly right. Obviously, everything was made to order from excellent ingredients. This was one superb dining experience. Absolutely, totally recommended!

    Four days in and around Austin: can't beat it with a stick!

    Geo


    As a UT student in the 80s, Trudy's (a dearly-departed location on South Lamar) had a happy hour special, IIRC from 4-7 pm, of $2 fajitas and $1 margaritas. For $4 I was very happy and moderately buzzed.
  • Post #36 - May 6th, 2014, 1:52 pm
    Post #36 - May 6th, 2014, 1:52 pm Post #36 - May 6th, 2014, 1:52 pm
    I've never been to Austin, and I am wary how much I'll be eating when I get there. For one, I love chicken fried steak. But I also have become a big BBQ fan. So having both to look for will be a balancing act! Franklin BBQ sounds like it will be a great as everyone says, but the wait is another issue. Sounds like Smitty's will be the first place I look.
  • Post #37 - May 6th, 2014, 3:01 pm
    Post #37 - May 6th, 2014, 3:01 pm Post #37 - May 6th, 2014, 3:01 pm
    Ram4 wrote:Franklin BBQ sounds like it will be a great as everyone says, but the wait is another issue.

    Go properly prepared and you won't even notice the wait.

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  • Post #38 - May 9th, 2014, 12:44 pm
    Post #38 - May 9th, 2014, 12:44 pm Post #38 - May 9th, 2014, 12:44 pm
    I've been to Franklin and it is (I imagine) similar to tantric sex. Really long buildup with an amazing climax that is totally worth it.
  • Post #39 - June 11th, 2014, 12:10 pm
    Post #39 - June 11th, 2014, 12:10 pm Post #39 - June 11th, 2014, 12:10 pm
    Da Beef wrote:But the taco that won best overall was this beauty below from the locally loved Mellizoz Tacos trailer. They take individual pieces of avocado and batter them in tempura before frying. Then a refreshing set of toppings goes on. Arugula, tomato, chipotle sherry vinaigrette and cotija cheese. Talk about the perfect taco for a 96 degree day.

    Geo wrote:Mellizoz Taco's fried avocado taco is the best taco I've ever had. (Not my first rodeo, btw: my first taco was had by my house in Sacramento in 1957.) Howie's shrimp taco comes in second. And we had a wonderful 15-minute conversation with one of the owners, in the end managing to convince her that a visit to Guaymas would be wonderful. :)

    In Austin recently, and inspired by the above, I hoped to undertake a small fried avocado tour of the city. Alas, it was not to be. Chuy's (an Austin-based chain, not universally loved) has a weekly special of a deep-fried, chicken-stuffed avocado (almost universally loved) but we couldn't get it together to stop drinking and start eating before the nearest Chuy's closed.

    A few days later, we headed to Mellizoz. Before stopping at their trailer, we took a look at Torchy's Tacos in the adjacent trailer park and noticed they too offer a FAT (second column, second taco). The line was too long and we decided we'd stop back but never did. So much for our fried avocado tour.

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    We did eventually get to Mellizoz and the FAT didn't disappoint.

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    There it is, though you can hardly see the avocado for the arugula. Really a terrific taco. That's a migas taco on the right. We tried a few other tacos as well, and to our surprise the migas taco was the unanimous favorite of our trio of taco tasters and the only one we got seconds of.

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    The next one was ordered on a flour tortilla and was even better. In Austin the correct answer to "Flour or corn?" is almost always the former. I can't quite put my finger on what makes this taco so spectacular but it is. The Mellizoz folks are putting out some seriously good food from their undersized kitchen.

    It's been said many times so I don't need to belabor the point, but Chicago's food truck scene is so sadly lacking. Here's an example of another Austin trailer that impressed me, though we hardly explored at all. We walked by Lucky's Puccias several times, but were never around during their limited serving hours. Nonetheless, I was struck with their clever adaptation of fresh-baked puccia (a bread from Puglia), the enthusiasm of the owner, and the amazing wood burning oven squeezed into the end of the tiny kitchen.

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    Lucky's has been so successful they'll soon open a regular restaurant. Next time in Austin I hope I'll be able to stop by the new place for a puccia.

    Torchy's Tacos
    1311 S 1st St
    Austin TX
    512-366-0537

    Mellizoz Tacos
    1503 S 1st St
    Austin TX
    512-916-4996

    Lucky's Puccias
    817 W 5th St
    Austin TX
    512-739-8785
  • Post #40 - June 11th, 2014, 4:12 pm
    Post #40 - June 11th, 2014, 4:12 pm Post #40 - June 11th, 2014, 4:12 pm
    Good to confirm what I thought I knew: Austin, breakfast tacos, flour tortilla. The migas are like a good version of the now-ubiquitous fast food breakfast burrito or wrap. Lately I'm getting my anytime breakfast taco fix at OK-based Sonic, now of Uptown. No shame.
  • Post #41 - June 12th, 2014, 9:12 am
    Post #41 - June 12th, 2014, 9:12 am Post #41 - June 12th, 2014, 9:12 am
    JeffB wrote:Good to confirm what I thought I knew: Austin, breakfast tacos, flour tortilla. The migas are like a good version of the now-ubiquitous fast food breakfast burrito or wrap. Lately I'm getting my anytime breakfast taco fix at OK-based Sonic, now of Uptown. No shame.


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    The Otto Taco - House Favorite at Tacodeli - Refried black beans, bacon, avocado, Monterrey Jack cheese - Corn tortilla available upon request
  • Post #42 - June 15th, 2014, 3:38 pm
    Post #42 - June 15th, 2014, 3:38 pm Post #42 - June 15th, 2014, 3:38 pm
    Ram4 wrote:Wait a second - Rudy's Country Store? I had that in Manitou Springs, Colorado. I figured it was a chain, but I'm surprised you mentioned it in an Austin thread when I'd be hitting places like Smitty's or Franklin BBQ (or driving to Hill Country). Then again, you also mentioned the traffic, so I hear you on that. Rudy's was good, but I'd have to go back again because I don't remember being really impressed.


    They also opened three location in Phoenix. They have different menus including a good green chili.
  • Post #43 - March 11th, 2015, 10:48 am
    Post #43 - March 11th, 2015, 10:48 am Post #43 - March 11th, 2015, 10:48 am
    A roundup from my trip to Austin this past January. First things first I already covered the BBQ from this trip in this post. As you may or may not know Austin has the highest concentration of top notch BBQ in the country and I don't think that's even up for debate. Quite a transformation as pretty much all of the renowned spots are new within the last decade. That said there's lots of other interesting stuff to eat in the capitol of Texas and I was on it. Though I guess I missed the quail. I keed.
    ______________________________________________________________

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    Lucy's Fried Chicken

    Where theres a surplus of good BBQ there tends to be good fried chicken, not the other way around though. Lucy's is a hip spot in a residential neighborhood away from the usual areas us tourists make it into. I'd heard good things so we went for lunch on the patio which happened to be the only day of the trip where the sun shined. Thus I just had to have their signature drink the Juicy Lucy which is a frozen watermelon margarita.

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    Juicy Lucy

    I know what some are thinking but I must say that they take the frozen margarita serious in the state where it was born. I've had quite a few good ones while there and none of them has lacked booze. These get you going and the Juicy Lucy had me feeling like I was in the sky. For food we had a basket of fried buttermilk brined chicken livers to start and they were terrific. Almost ordered another round but then the chicken basket came out.

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    Fried Chicken Livers

    The fried chicken was a tasty rendition. I would say the best characteristic of it was the quality of the bird. The coating was a medium layer that stuck right to the meat and remained relatively crunchy throughout the meal. It was a tad past perfect as far as juiciness. I'd give the fried chicken a B+ and then overall I'd give the lunch experience an A. It was a good meal and we needed that sun.

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    Fried Chicken Basket
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    Taco Tour

    Austin is indeed a great taco town, breakfast tacos reign supreme with the people but there's plenty of other options to try. I'm just going to share a quick note for each of these spots going down one by one. The breakfast tacos at El Chilito are pretty damn money and easily the quantity of two tacos from most anywhere else. Joe's Bakery is a city icon and was packed with people on a Sunday morning. There was some really good to it's product (the housemade flour tortilla) and there was some pretty bad (pre-cooked eggs) to it. Overall Joe's is still worth checking out if you've never been. FATs (fried avocado tacos) are a lesser known regional taco of the area and Papalote Taco House had a tasty one but not as good as that upthread. I'm still getting craves for the brisket taco at Valentina's Tex-Mex BBQ doc'd HERE.

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    Charlies Special at El Chilito - farm eggs, chorizo, potato, tomato, onion, serrano

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    Bacon, Egg and Cheese Breakfast Taco at Joe's Bakery

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    Aguacate con Queso at Papalote Taco House - Fried avocado topped w/ black beans, pico de gallo, cabbage, queso fresco

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    Smoked Brisket Taco w/ Smokey House Salsa + House Guac on Handmade Flour Tortilla at Valentina's Tex-Mex BBQ

    Taco Flats is a semi-new modern day taco shop ala Big Star. I'd been told to try their taco al pastor and did. Not as good as I'd hoped it was going to be. This may be attributed to the fact we got there when brunch was still being served and waited until lunch started and ordered them, resulting in meat not cut from the spit I was told they use. However their frozen house margarita was one of the spiciest, tipsiest, most delightful of it's kind. Tacodeli is renowned for their breakfast tacos, which are great, but so are the non-breakfast options. Try their fish taco offering which is as good as you'll find in an area not on water. La Condesa is one of our happy hour favorites as the food and drinks at this modern Mexican restaurant are full of life. Last but not least I did a search hoping to find a place in ATX that serves real deal San Antonio style puffy tacos and found a spot outside city limits that specializes in them. I stopped into Tio Dan's in Round Rock on the rebound back to Dallas and tried a ground beef and chicken one of each. So good in that guilty pleasure sort of way. It's probably a good thing for me that these aren't found in Chicago.

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    Taco al Pastor from Taco Flats

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    Mojo Fish Taco at Tacodeli - Line-caught Texas Gulf Coast Drum fillets grilled w/ mojo-garlic sauce, homemade guacamole and pico de gallo

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    Happy Hour Tacos at La Condesa - Cochinita Pibil and Chicken Verde

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    Puffy Tacos at Tio Dan's in Round Rock, TX
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    East Side King's Thai Kun

    I'm not big on lists, even if I make them, but I don't hate them. I just take them for what they're worth. Some are better than others though I still think you have to look at them from an objective standpoint. When it says the "best" just look at it as someone or a group of peoples "favorites" and decide if you trust the opinion. Enter Bon Appétit. As I'm sure they always do they listed their year end favorites in the December of 2014 issue and I perused through it while at my parents place. Enter Thai Kun which was listed as one of the ten best new restaurant openings of the year in the article, even if it's a truck. Thai Kun is owned by local celeb chef Paul Qui who brought in a chef from Thailand named Thai (no joke) to run the vessel that stays put at a cocktail bar on East 6th street.

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    Waterfall Pork with Sticky Rice

    The menu is small so it really wasn't all that hard to decide on what we were eating. Described as"OG Thai" we went with just two dishes since we were coming from a BBQ tasting. First up seen above is the waterfall pork aka Namtok, a favorite of the people of Laos. Grilled pieces of pork are loaded with tons of Thai flavor like fish sauce, lime and lots of chile peppers making this one of the hotter dishes I've ate in a minute. It was right at the peak as far as heat level being just tolerable enough to be enjoyed without breathing hot fire for the rest of the day. The sack of sticky rice sitting behind it helps cool down the flames. As did the peach and bourbon draft cocktail that I was downing. We also tried the Khoa Man Gai which can best be described as the Thai Version of Hainanese Chicken and Rice. Being one of the national dishes of Thailand this version is spicier and the recipe served at Thai Kun included one of the richest bowls of chicken broth you will ever come across. I could barely finish the thing but the glutton in me wouldn't let it escape. Easy gangster.

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    Khoa Man Gai
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    I had to stop in and try their locally loved Bob Armstrong Dip and a margarita to go with it. It did get better with each sip.
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    Mission Dogs

    I spied this guy on East 6th street while headed back to my hotel one evening and couldn't resist the smells of bacon and onions in the air. I went with their namesake option which includes grilled onions, jalapenos, ketchup, mayo, and mustard. This is what drinking food is all about. Bacon wrapped hot dogs from a cart at one in the morning on a Saturday night, what's not to like? Stay interesting Austin.

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    The Mission Dog
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    Lucy's Fried Chicken
    5408 Burnet Rd
    Austin, TX 78756
    (512) 514-0664

    El Chilito
    2219 Manor Rd
    Austin, TX 78722
    (512) 382-3797

    Joe's Bakery
    2305 E 7th St
    Austin, TX 78702
    (512) 472-0017

    Papalote Taco House
    2803 S Lamar Blvd
    Austin, TX 78704
    (512) 804-2474

    Valentina's Tex-Mex BBQ
    600 West 6th Street
    Austin, TX 78701
    (512) 221-4248

    Taco Flats
    5520 Burnet Rd
    Ste 101
    Austin, TX 78756
    (512) 284-8352

    Tacodeli
    1500 Spyglass Dr
    Austin, TX 78746
    (512) 732-0303

    La Condesa
    400 W 2nd St
    Austin, TX 78701
    (512) 499-0300

    Tio Dan Puffy Tacos
    409 Round Rock Ave
    Round Rock, TX 78664
    (512) 246-7733

    Thai Kun
    1816 E 6th St
    Austin, TX 78702
    (512) 407-8166

    Matt's Famous El Rancho
    2613 S Lamar Blvd
    Austin, TX 78704
    (512) 462-9333

    Mission Dogs
    1412 E 6th St
    Austin, TX 78702
  • Post #44 - November 21st, 2015, 4:18 pm
    Post #44 - November 21st, 2015, 4:18 pm Post #44 - November 21st, 2015, 4:18 pm
    Spent the better part of 5 days eating and drinking in Austin back in October. Armed with nothing but my cellphone camera, I fought off daytime highs in the mid-90's, evenings of drunkenness and a couple of bouts of brisket overdose to file this report. Unfortunately, the pictures are neither pretty nor comprehensive but hopefully they'll convey some useful information . . .

    Day 1
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    Mellizoz Taco Truck


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    Assortment of Mellizoz Tacos
    Mellizoz - it's fine.


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    Lucky's Puccias & Pizzeria Menu


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    The Porketta Puccia at Lucky's
    Their original location is a truck but it was closed (for the season, we were told), so we went to their newer brick & mortar location. The food was hot, fresh and prepared to order but it just fell a bit flat for me. I thought the sandwiches could have been more substantial (we tried 3 and my favorite of the lot is pictured). In the end, a puccia is basically just a pita. The location, while nice, is kind of soulless and antiseptic.

    Next up, whiskey and live music at The Blackheart . . .

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    Parker's 9th Edition
    Our timing was darned good as this great and reasonably priced juice -- the 9th annual edition of the fabled Parker's Heritage Collection -- had just been released, and delivered to the bar earlier in the day. We partook. :wink:


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    Critter
    I thought I was seeing things but I guess the camera proves otherwise. In any case, this was a great, fun bar. Yeah, there was some overpriced stuff on the shelves but plenty of desirable and nicely-priced whiskeys, too and we tried at least 47 of them. The staff could not have been cooler. There's a small stage in the main room and a couple very decent bands performed while we were there. Being a Wednesday night, it was just the right amount of crowded.

    Next up, we went to the 24 Diner. I'm told by my companions that the food was pretty good. I have a vague recollection that it might have been and I have no reason to doubt them.

    Day 2
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    Torchy's Taco Truck - part of an ever-growing empire. There are several locations throughout the state, and a massive, soon-to-open one in Austin that appeared to be under construction.

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    Torchy's Menu
    Some fun options.


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    Assortment of Torchy's Tacos
    Good stuff but I have to say that overall, the hipster tacos were a bit disappointing. They didn't come together well and for the most part, tortillas -- flour or corn -- were not handled well. The places we tried have nothing on Big Star and certainly nothing on places like La Chaparrita or Taqueria Los Barrilitos, etc.


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    Valentina's Tex Mex BBQ


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    Short Rib, Brisket and Jalapeno-Cheddar Sausage
    Unless you're ordering tacos, Valentina's BBQ offerings aren't exactly Tex-Mex. The meats are pretty straightforward BBQ, with their renditions of brisket and short rib being very, very good ones. The foil on the left holds some outstanding tortillas (not hipster) and the pickle assortment on the right was house-made.


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    Topo Chico
    Who's your friend after you brisket OD? :lol:


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    Ice Ice Baby


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    Medium Cherry-Vanilla Combo
    Just aw'right - nothing like the shaved ice I used to get at Hansen's in NOLA.


    The rest of Day 2 was somewhat of a waste. We went to a perfunctory sportsbar to watch Game 5 of the Mets vs. Dodgers NLDS and then, with very little else open, headed to a food truck area on the East Side at 6th and Waller, where the food was just not very good across the board. 5 of us, all fairly inebriated, split up and purchased stuff from 5 different trucks. We didn't finish a single item. Nuff said.

    Day 3
    Day 3 brought with it the promise of some better food and beverage and happily, that promise was fulfilled. It ended up being a very fun and delicious day. First, a drive down to Lockhart for some classic, old-skool BBQ. We started at Black's . . .

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    Black's Barbecue


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    Brisket, Pork Ribs, Turkey, Short Rib, Sausage
    Nothing really stood out as exceptional here, though everything was solid, save for the dry turkey. The fatty pieces of brisket (referred to locally as "moist") were very good.


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    Smitty's Market


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    Prime Rib, Brisket, Sausage
    Here, the sausage was the favorite item in our group and I think we all felt that the prime rib under-delivered.


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    Kreuz Market


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    Brisket, Sausage, Short Rib, Ham
    The schtick at Kreuz is "no forks." That was fine but it was a good thing I had my pocket knife because that short rib was as tight as a drum. Most of it went uneaten. Ham was a bit dry. Again, sausage -- the signature item here -- was the winner. It was loosely-bound, unctuous and intensely flavorful, reflecting a beautiful marriage of smoke and pork.

    Next, a quick 20-mile drive over to Luling (local speed limit on the Interstates was 80!).

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    City Market


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    Brisket, Pork Ribs, Sausage
    Here, the brisket was pretty dry, the ribs were tasty and the sausage was, yet again, the favorite item.


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    Freedmen's


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    Brisket, Pork Ribs, Sausage, Housemade Pickles, Housemade Focaccia
    Outstanding brisket, very good pork ribs, and sausage with nice flavor but an overly dense texture.


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    Banana Pudding, Horseradish Potato Salad
    When desserts and sides are this tasty, you post a picture of them.

    Next up, a supersized, extended and exceptional cocktail session at Weather Up followed up by a dinner at a local Tex-Mex joint recommended to us by a few locals: Curra's Grill. I'm told by my companions that the food was pretty good. I have a vague recollection that it might have been and I have no reason to doubt them.

    Day 4
    Cue the music: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qR8DJkIY6Yk

    Saturday morning in Austin: 65 degrees, beautiful sunshine, some dew on the grass and a light haze of sweet bbq smoke filled the air . . .

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    Mickelthwait's Craft Meats


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    Mickelthwait's Craft Meats


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    Mickelthwait's Craft Meats' Menu


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    Mickelthwait's Craft Meats' Menu


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    Short Rib


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    Brisket, Beerwurst, Knockwurst


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    Goat, Barbacoa, Loin with Jalapeno Cheese Grits and Campfire Chili Beans
    For I think all of us on this trip, Mickelthwait's was the best of the best. The meats were really great -- especially the brisket and the short rib, which was probably my favorite item from the entire trip. I flipped it over meat-side-down, ran the tip of my pocket knife along the membrane and the meat came away from the bone like it was being unzipped. Spectacular.

    For me, Mickelthwait's also represented the best of the 'new school' places in that there were the traditional coin-of-the-realm bbq items like brisket, short rib and sausage but also items like loin, barbacoa and goat. Sides, including housemade pickles, were several notches above the foodservice-grade items served at some of the more traditional places we visited. There just seemed to be a level of culinary expertise and care applied here that made it stand out. The best of all worlds.


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    Sam's Bar-B-Que
    This spot had been recommended by a few folks and it was definitely worth the stop.


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    Brisket, Pork Ribs, Sausage
    Here the sausage was the favorite item and the pork ribs were pretty darned good, too.


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    Kerlin BBQ


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    Pork Ribs, Brisket, Sausage, Ranch-Style Pinto Beans
    For me, this was one of the top places we visited. While no single item stood as as the best I had, collectively, the plate was all great. Considering how excellent these meats were, I would have loved to tried their take on a short rib (though, they don't serve one).

    After a brief, self-imposed rest period, we headed out to The Townsend for cocktails and snacks. This is a slightly nicer-style bar (note: I didn't call it "fussy"). We arrived just as they opened at 4 pm and had a nice session. There's an intimate performance stage in a back room that looked really promising. I'm guessing it'd be a great place to see a show.

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    Really Big Board


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    Cucumber Sammiches (daily special)

    After The Townsend, we went back to the perfunctory sportsbar to watch Game 1 of the NLCS. The Cubs gave up a 1st-inning run to the Mets. While most people in the place were focused on college football, other than us, what few baseball fans were present were Mets fans. I quickly realized that I didn't need to waste the last night of my vacation watching this game, so after the first few innings, we decided to get some dinner. I'd heard some good things about Ramen Tatsu-Ya, so that's where we went . . .

    Image
    Tonkotsu Original


    Image
    Mi-So-Hot


    Image
    Chasu Rice Bowl


    Image
    Hushpiggy | crispy chashu rillete, tonkatsu sauce, bonito, red pickled ginger


    Image
    Spicy Edamame | soy beans, citrus, jalapeno, sea salt, shichimi, lemon soy

    I'm not very well-versed in Ramen and enjoyed my bowl. The broth had some depth, though no lip-smacking collagen element. My companions, some of whom have eaten a lot more Ramen than I, weren't overly impressed. None of us were happy with the service. We unnecessarily ordered some extra items for our bowls (e.g. the chasu rice bowl pictured above x 2) simply because we weren't informed that they were already included. And while seated at our table, one of my companions was actually confronted by a food runner and asked to produce his receipt to prove he ordered what he said he'd ordered. Not cool.

    Day 5
    Last wraps before heading to the airport. We decided to hit the highly regarded LA Barbecue, which has a great pedigree and a lot of fans. We arrived at about 10:20, and they open at 11. There was already quite a queue . . .

    Image
    La Barbecue

    While we waited in line for our final bbq of the trip, a couple of my companions headed down the block to grab us some breakfast tacos from Veracruz All Natural. Now, remember all those not-so-nice things I said above about hipster tacos in Austin? You can throw them all out the window in relation to Veracruz. These breakfast tacos were great, with tasty, well-prepared fillings, tender and delectable tortillas and dynamic, flavorful salsas. Just great stuff and I'm sorry I wasn't able to grab any pics.

    They've got it down to a science at La Barbecue and by about 11:45, we were settling in at our picnic table with 2 trays of barbecue and sides . . .

    Image
    Brisket, Sausage, Housemade Pickles, Pickled Okra (sold separately)


    Image
    Pulled Pork, Pork Ribs, Turkey, Short Rib

    Brisket, short rib and sausage were all very good and near the top of the pack. Turkey just didn't make the grade - it was dry. I know Aaron Franklin produces a legendary turkey and was hoping that the turkey at one of the places we visited would approximate it but I don't think it did. I've never been to Franklin BBQ but I doubt their turkey would have the heavy rep it does if it were even close to the renditions we tried on this trip. I know his take involves a tremendous amount of butter but I digress. We ordered the pulled pork and pork ribs just to give them a whirl and while they were ok, with brisket, sausage and short ribs this good, I see no reason to ever order them again.

    So ends our adventure, which was very enjoyable and a real eye-opener on a lot of levels. It had been over 32 years since my last trip to Austin and needless to say, it has changed a lot. And so have I, especially in that I care about food a lot more now than I did back then. In fact, I couldn't even tell you where I ate the last time I visited.

    I guess the biggest surprise for me was our experience with food trucks in Austin, which was pretty lackluster. Unless it was BBQ (and as you can see above much of the best bbq came from trucks), it just wasn't very good. After a couple of days of trying to find some gems, we turned mainly to BBQ, which was not our original plan. So, this ended up being an inadvertent BBQ tour more than anything else.

    In case it isn't clear, Texas BBQ is beef -- basically brisket, sausage and short rib. We ordered pork (and turkey) to sample wherever it was available with varying results but even when the pork items were good at a given place, beef items and sausage were still almost always the best items we had. The best sausages -- and this is where the old-skool places excelled -- were the ones that were loosely bound and packed, and lush. These were fatty and delicious. But as I mentioned above, the new school places more than held their own when it came to meats.

    And our experience certainly doesn't represent a static reality. Additional trips to the same places could easily yield different results. Such is the nature of bbq, which is a fickle and highly variable beast. And that doesn't even allow for additonal personal variables, such as how hungry or full we were as eaters, what beverages we were drinking, etc. As much bbq as I've eaten over the years, I find it just about impossible to be 100% empirical in assessing it.

    Speaking of old-skool vs. new school, there was some charm in the foodservice variety pickles and peppers at the old-skool places but for the most part, we found the housemade stuff at the new school places to be much more interesting and enjoyable. Still, the old-skool places should not be missed. They're a sight to see, their food is solid and obviously, they're extremely important. I wish we had time to hit more of them because we definitely left some stones unturned. I'm sorry I didn't grab any pics of the inside at Smitty's Market, where the fire pits are just open holes in the floor inside the building (though, there are plenty available to view online).

    One other (culinary) note about Austin: the tap water tastes horrible (though, it's perfectly safe to drink). There's plenty online about this. I'm not generally a person who buys bottled water when I travel but in Austin I consider it a must.

    All in all, the least favorite bbq we had in Austin would still rank higher than most everything here in Chicago on its best day. Why is there no similar culture here? There are probably a lot of reasons for this (tradition, weather, zoning laws, etc.). Still it's interesting that as much meat passes through Chicago, meaningful barbecue has really just now begun to blossom here. There's certainly hope, so maybe someday it'll be in full bloom . . .

    =R=

    Mellizoz Tacos
    1503 S 1st St
    Austin, TX 78704
    (512) 916-4996

    Lucky's Puccias & Pizzeria
    1611 W. 5th St, Ste 175
    Austin, TX 78703
    (512) 291-3531

    The Blackheart
    86 Rainey St
    Austin, TX 78701
    (512) 391-1566

    Torchy's Tacos
    1311 S 1st St
    Austin, TX 78704
    (512) 366-0537

    Valentina's Tex Mex BBQ
    7612 Brodie Ln
    Austin, TX 78745
    (512) 221-4248

    Ice Ice Baby
    916 E 11th St.
    Austin, TX 78702
    no phone

    Black's BBQ
    215 N Main St
    Lockhart, TX 78644
    (512) 398-2712

    Smitty's Market
    208 S Commerce St
    Lockhart, TX 78644
    (512) 398-9344

    Kreuz Market
    619 N Colorado St
    Lockhart, TX 78644
    (512) 398-2361

    City Market
    633 E Davis St
    Luling, TX 78648
    (830) 875-9019

    Freedmen's
    2402 San Gabriel St
    Austin, TX 78705
    (512) 220-0953

    Weather Up
    1808 E Cesar Chavez St
    Austin, TX 78702
    (512) 524-0464

    Curra's Grill
    614 E Oltorf St
    Austin, TX 78704
    (512) 444-0012

    Micklethwait Craft Meats
    1309 Rosewood Ave
    Austin, TX 78702
    (512) 791-5961

    Sam's Bar-B-Cue
    2000 E 12th St
    Austin, TX 78702
    (512) 478-0378

    Kerlin BBQ
    1700 E Cesar Chavez St
    Austin, TX 78702
    (512) 412-5588

    The Townsend
    718 Congress Ave #100
    Austin, TX 78701
    (512) 887-8778

    Ramen Tatsu-Ya
    8557 Research Blvd #126
    Austin, TX 78758
    (512) 834-8810

    La Barbecue
    1906 E Cesar Chavez St
    Austin, TX 78702
    (512) 605-9696

    Veracruz All Natural
    1704 E Cesar Chavez St
    Austin, TX 78702
    (512) 981-1760

    =R=
    That don't impress me much --Shania Twain

    Another beer before happy hour to put me in the mood for drinkin', uh huh huh, oh, forget thinkin' --Beaver Nelson

    I find it a matter of note that in New York or Terre Haute, school cookies always seem to be oatmeal --Mr. French
  • Post #45 - January 28th, 2016, 10:52 am
    Post #45 - January 28th, 2016, 10:52 am Post #45 - January 28th, 2016, 10:52 am
    Dope post Ronnie, sounds like y'all had a blur. Regarding the hipster tacos, there are a ton of them, and some are much better than others. I think most people who've eaten around town will say that Tacodeli (upthread) is the spot for chef driven/hipster/yuppie tacos or whatever the preferred description is. Also extremely popular and pretty damn good is Tyson's Tacos. The filling options are definitely chef driven, I just wish the tortillas were the same. FYI - One of the main tortilla distributors down here is El Milagro of Little Village fame.

    Image
    Pork Belly Taco - Mandarin Oranges, Pickled Onion, Fried Parsley (Tyson's Tacos)

    As far as the food trailers it sounds like y'all were unlucky with those. There are 100's of them so of course many aren't anything special but some are wonderful. Aside from all the amazing BBQ trailers I wouldn't hesitate to send anyone to Via 313 which I posted about upthread. Their Detroit style pizza is some of the best pizza I've ever had of any particular style. Just make sure you eat it then and there, nowhere near as good served lukewarm or reheated in a microwave. As is the case with Via 313 and other worthy trailers, the better ones tend to be in the back of bars and not in the trailer parks.

    Image
    Rainey Street

    I know the park you speak of on East 6th street and it is indeed wack. Spots like Via 313, Thai-Kun, Love Balls Bus, (all upthread) and the newly opened Romanouskas Deli are all in the back (or front) of bars and imo well worth a stop.

    Image
    Romanouskas Deli

    When the people behind Mickletwait Meats open a Deli trailer specializing in smoked meats where everything is made in house, you get your ass on over. So I did exactly that and took myself over to East 6th street in front of The Grackle. The Reuben sandwich from here includes both smoked corned beef and also a very potent heavily seasoned pastrami.

    Image
    Reuben Sandwich

    The meats, bread, the Sauerkraut, Russian Dressing, and pickles are all made on site and the sum of it all in one is a fantastic tasting sandwich. Need to try the beef.

    Image
    The Insides

    As far as the trailer parks go, there are a few good ones. And they tend to be away from heavy drinking areas. Over on South Lamar they got an empty lot with about 5 carts parked in there including a spot making homestyle Tibetan food. This means momo and I love me some momo so of course I stopped in.

    Image
    Tibetan Momo

    The young owner is from Tibet originally but grew up in the States. He's making his family momo recipe which for those not in the know are Tibetan style dumplings. In the old country yak is the meat of choice but in the States beef is preferred though chicken and veggie are also common though nowhere near as good. Momo are seasoned with spices common in Tibetan cooking so there's always a wonderful hint of garam masala amongst other stuff used. They traditionally come served with a chili sauce with similar spicing. It's a shame we don't have a legit beef momo option in Chicago because I'm still craving these weeks later. Wonderful.

    Image
    Beef Momo

    Of course there's plenty of "unhip" food trailers scattered about town too. These ones tend to be Mexican or Latin American, as is the customer base, and found in gas station lots away from areas where tourists make it too.

    Image
    Glorieta Delicias

    Here we have a sweet old lady pushing the food from her native Honduras. One of the food guys I'm friendly with down there rec'd the 'Tacos Hondurenas' which are made with tortillas that are handmade after you place your order. They're filled with chicken and then rolled and fried. Once ready they're topped with an array of cheeses, crunchy cabbage, and a creamy butter sauce that soaks into the flautas with each second passed. They eventually took on the consistency of enchiladas but that didn't stop me from chowing down.

    Image
    Tacos Hondurenas

    I was down in ATX for both Halloween and also NYE so I went to lots of spots. You can check out the rest of them right HERE. Also of note, as the hotels go up month by month they just keep getting better. We stayed at the newly opened Hotel Van Zandt (a Kimpton property) and will probably stay there from here on in, at least when its warm out. They got a sick pool and a fantastic bar/restaurant on site. BBQ from this trip is in this thread. See ya next time.

    Image
    Hotel Van Zandt

    Tyson's Tacos
    4905 Airport Blvd
    Austin, TX 78751
    (512) 451-3326

    Romanouskas Delicatessen
    1700 E 6th St
    Austin, TX 78702
    (512) 720-0371

    Tibetan Momo
    2323 S Lamar Blvd
    Austin, TX 78704
    (203) 503-1285

    Glorieta Delicias
    1723 E Oltorf St
    Austin, TX 78741

    Hotel Van Zandt
    605 Davis St
    Austin, TX
    (512) 542-5300
  • Post #46 - January 28th, 2016, 11:05 am
    Post #46 - January 28th, 2016, 11:05 am Post #46 - January 28th, 2016, 11:05 am
    Great post, Beef. I really appreciate the detailed intel. Yes, too many trucks for some of them not to be great - we just rolled snake eyes on our visit but I am not deterred. Next time, more bbq (natch) and a few more targeted truck visits.

    Thanks!

    =R=
    That don't impress me much --Shania Twain

    Another beer before happy hour to put me in the mood for drinkin', uh huh huh, oh, forget thinkin' --Beaver Nelson

    I find it a matter of note that in New York or Terre Haute, school cookies always seem to be oatmeal --Mr. French
  • Post #47 - November 10th, 2016, 12:14 pm
    Post #47 - November 10th, 2016, 12:14 pm Post #47 - November 10th, 2016, 12:14 pm
    backorforth wrote:Franklin BBQ - Did this take 3 hours of my time? Yes. Did I have to wake up early to make this happen? Yes. Did I line up before 10a? Yes. Were there already tons of people ahead of me in line? Yes. And that, compadres, is the problem with Franklin BBQ. Lots of hype = lots of people trying to get through that door even on a random Tuesday morn. What I can say though is that it was worth it.


    I had a short business trip to Austin, a con was not having enough time to even begin to dig into this thread, a big pro was the company held a private evening dinner at Franklin, so no wait. Open bar & all you can eat BBQ.

    The links & turkey were so-so. The brisket & pork spareribs were out of this world delicious. The pulled pork was surprisingly good. I didn't expect as many pork items being in Texas.
    I did absolutely nothing and it was everything I thought it could be.
  • Post #48 - November 11th, 2016, 2:27 pm
    Post #48 - November 11th, 2016, 2:27 pm Post #48 - November 11th, 2016, 2:27 pm
    Willie,

    That sounds incredible. As a frequent smoker of briskets, having a taste of Franklin's is high on my list. The fact that you didn't have to wait in line and could eat all you wanted...well let's just say I'm very jealous.
    Steve Z.

    “Only the pure in heart can make a good soup.”
    ― Ludwig van Beethoven
  • Post #49 - April 26th, 2017, 10:01 am
    Post #49 - April 26th, 2017, 10:01 am Post #49 - April 26th, 2017, 10:01 am
    Da Beef wrote:La Condesa is one of our happy hour favorites as the food and drinks at this modern Mexican restaurant are full of life.
    Image
    Happy Hour Tacos at La Condesa - Cochinita Pibil and Chicken Verde

    La Condesa
    400 W 2nd St
    Austin, TX 78701
    (512) 499-0300

    Austin friend who I haven't seen for years, and I went to La Condesa https://www.lacondesa.com/ for dinner on Monday night.

    Tried the following items:
    Acapulco Ceviche - striped bass, gulf snapper, salsa valentina, avocado, tomato, jalepeño, citrus. Very good way to start the meal.

    HUARACHE DE HONGOS Y HUITLACOCHE - wild mushrooms, huitlacoche, yellow corn, farmer’s cheese, queso mixto, epazote, truffle oil. This should have been a flavor explosion but alas really no flavor.

    Fried Cricket tacos - a special for the evening - served with purple corn tortillas, guacamole and salsa verde. There was lots of exoskeleton crunch but just didn't wow me. I'll stick with spiced fried grasshoppers when drinking a cold cerveza which I find to be a much more enjoyable way to eat bugs.

    The bite of the night for me, Barbacoa tacos of braised lamb, mint-serrano salsa, mill king requesón, cebollitas, bacon fat flour tortilla. Just wow, flavor bomb, awesome.
    -
    I did absolutely nothing and it was everything I thought it could be.
  • Post #50 - August 26th, 2017, 9:41 pm
    Post #50 - August 26th, 2017, 9:41 pm Post #50 - August 26th, 2017, 9:41 pm
    Franklin BBQ hit by major fire.
    http://www.mystatesman.com/news/local/f ... qeWrMPEjM/
  • Post #51 - August 28th, 2017, 12:22 pm
    Post #51 - August 28th, 2017, 12:22 pm Post #51 - August 28th, 2017, 12:22 pm
    My cousin was all excited yesterday telling me he's going back to Austin in late September and can't wait to hit Franklin BBQ because last year he went and they were closed (on a Monday). Now he'll be 0 for 2. :( He still can hit plenty of great joints so it's definitely not a total loss!
  • Post #52 - August 29th, 2017, 10:49 am
    Post #52 - August 29th, 2017, 10:49 am Post #52 - August 29th, 2017, 10:49 am
    Ram4 wrote:My cousin was all excited yesterday telling me he's going back to Austin in late September and can't wait to hit Franklin BBQ because last year he went and they were closed (on a Monday). Now he'll be 0 for 2. :(

    There's still a chance he could hit Franklin. They plan to reopen about that time.
    https://austin.eater.com/2017/8/28/1621 ... losed-fire

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