Wednesday, August 24, 2005
Texas Chili Parlor
Before I viewed the menu the first time, the whole wooden "Texas sportsbar" interior had me lowering my expectations even more.. Don't take me the wrong way; I've been a regular of the Texas sportsbar known as Posse East for years. For vegetarian food, though, that sort of decor seems ... worrisome. Anyway, look what I found:
- 5 bean vegetable chili
- Cheese enchiladas
- Sauteed vegetable tacos
All of these are vegetarian. Three options is more than LOTS of other places. Cool! I believe there was also a breakfast menu, with migas, etc.
Since this was a chili parlor, I felt it might be wise to choose the chili. Next time I'll try the enchiladas probably. Anyway, what was in this chili, you ask? Well:
- Chickpeas, pinto beans, kidney beans, black beans, and black-eyed peas
- Bits of yellow squash, also maybe zucchini?
- Other unidentifiables in the bowl
- No cheese (maybe you have to ask?)
- Optional garnish: chopped jalapeños (pickled), onions
My take on yellow squash and zucchini is that.. I generally like them when grilled, say, kind of by themselves. In chili, they probably don't add so much, but for some reason, I support their existence in it. I began the meal by of course sticking in the jalapeños and mixing them around. Crackers (in packets) were provided for scooping up the chili (crackerware?), so I used them. They did the job, though I was thinking "I am in Texas" the whole time. "I should buy a cow and move to Amarillo." "Etc.."
The chili itself was pretty good... everything was well-cooked and flavorful. Slightly not spicy-hot enough for my taste, but no big deal. One thing that interested me was that, of all the chilis on the menu, this is the only one which doesn't offer a hotness-level option. Hmmm... Perhaps that means it's packaged chili? Or else they figure the average vegetarian will NOT walk in... I'm guessing the latter, because the beans tasted fresh. Incidentally, it was better than the veggie chili (containing kidney beans and tempeh) available at Spiderhouse, at least as of the last one I had. Also better than the one at Kerby Lane Cafe.
By the way, in case you were imagining this place as having a large longhorn skull mounted on the wall... I, surprisingly, couldn't find it. Maybe it's in the restroom??
I almost forgot: the chili comes with a side salad.. (+1 points). The salad was great! (+1 more points). Stuff in the salad: freshly chopped non-iceberg lettuce, small amount of julienned carrots, black olive slices... some other objects.. It was all uber-good. FYI: I usually despise raw carrots, but these were sliced thin enough so it was ok. Also, the waitress messed up and put my dressing on the salad instead of on the side which I requested... but.. she was *really* cool and is 100% absolved, for life, many times over.
They also have desserts, like key lime pie, which was pretty decent... not to mention tasting entirely unlike the chili (I had been a bit worried about that).
All around, better than I expected, for sure. No doubt the food was tasty. And of course I'm happy that they're local. Definitely give it a try if you're in the mood for chili. Challenge for you: find the longhorn skull! (They're open late, too.)
I remember trying and liking the veggie chili. My favorite remains Shady Grove.
As for the merits of the boycott, we'll have to agree to disagree. Not passing the 2000 light rail plan is going to go down in history as the worst decision Austin ever made (see my blog for why the '04 commuter rail plan is potentially damaging to rail transit, not just "nearly as good").
The heat was perfect - not painful, but left a burn.
Flavor was rich, and the meat and beans were generous.
All the waitstaff were extremely cool - good humored and very patient with our large group.
I'd go back happily (even though I don't ordinarily order chili at restaurants).