Every year, Austin’s alternative weekly, The Austin Chronicle, publishes a “Best of Austin” issue to highlight all the various wonders of the Violet Crown City. (Yes, Austin is known as the Violet Crown City. It’s also known as The Live Music Capital of the World, Waterloo, and Sodom-on-the-Colorado. But those are topics for future posts.) This year’s “Best Of” issue came out today.
The Chron’s extensive “Best Of” list is always entertaining, and it’s a great way to start conversations, arguments, and bar fights. This year’s edition is broken into nine categories (“Architecture & Lodging,” “Arts & Entertainment,” “Food & Drink,” etc.) and includes both “Critics’ Picks” and the results of a readers’ poll. And in addition to listing winners in standard subcategories such as “Best Hotel,” “Best Restaurant,” and “Best Bookstore,” the Chron also gives mad props to “Best Place to Find a Lover,” “Best Pay Phone Within 50 Miles,” “Best Moment of Zen That’s Not on ‘The Daily Show,’” “Best Way to Avoid Dysentery While Enjoying Bjork,” and “Best Creative Use of Three Small Trampolines.”
The only flaw with the Chron’s “Best of Austin” list is that, as comprehensive as it tries to be, it tends to give short shrift to us Austinites (Austinians? Austinoids?) who don’t live smack-dab in the middle of the city. So, to do my part to help out my brethren on the southern outskirts (and our many foreign visitors, some from as far away as Arkansas) here’s my list of the –
Best of Austin Between MoPac and I-35, But South of Slaughter Lane (In Other Words, Manchaca, More or Less, But Not Quite Down to Buda):
Best Tex-Mex Restaurant: The Texican Café on Manchaca Road. I had lunch there today. My stomach is so much happier than yours right now.
Best Parking Lot From Which You Will Never Escape: The H.E.B. parking lot at the northwest corner of Slaughter Lane and Manchaca Road. Technically, this is north of Slaughter Lane. Or is it? The singularity caused by the black hole at its center makes it hard to tell.
Best Barbecue: Railroad Bar-B-Que on F.M. 1626 in Manchaca. I’ll probably have lunch there tomorrow, so my stomach will be happier than yours then, too.
Best Place to See a Deer Carcass Stripped Down to the Spine by Buzzards: The ditch along Bliss Spillar Road, about two hundred yards west of the Dark Tower.
Best Kennel and Dog Grooming: Onion Creek Kennels. I always worry that the dogs will decide they’d just rather stay there.
Best Neighborhood Bar: Sam’s Town Point on Allred Street, tucked away in a great old neighborhood just south of Slaughter. Cold Shiner Bock, a killer cheesesteak sandwich made with horseradish and whole jalapenos, and the friendliest owner-operator on earth behind the bar. Live music almost every night except Thursday, which is Dart League night. The Open Mic night on Tuesdays draws singer-songwriters, guitarists, Dobro players, harp blowers, and full bands from as far away as Lost Pines and Niederwald, not to mention from all over South Austin and Manchaca. (There’s even the occasional singin’ science-fiction writer.)
Best Veterinary Clinic: Manchaca Village Veterinary Clinic. If I could, I’d have them take care of me, too.
Best Volunteer Fire Department: Manchaca VFD. These guys are crackerjack. Plus, they run a dang fine restaurant at the Manchaca Firehall on F.M. 1626.
Best Hardware Store That’s Closing, and Boy Do I Wish It Weren’t: Manchaca Hardware (formerly Ace Hardware, Manchaca Road). Dammit! Now I have to go to Lowe’s.
Best School Bus Driver: Esther. She waves to us every morning while we’re walking the dogs. (She sells Avon, too, but we haven’t bought any yet.)
Best Place to Be When the Dead Rise and Begin to Attack and Eat the Living: See “Best Place to See a Deer Carcass Stripped Down to the Spine,” above. If you reside within sight of the Dark Tower, you won’t need a motorcycle with mounted machine guns when Z-Day comes. The buzzards will take care of the Dead, toot-sweet.
But you’ll still want the weaponized bike if you live someplace where the zombies will be rampant (like College Station).
After all . . . how else will you make it to Manchaca?