By Christie Vanover | Published April 2, 2011 | Last Updated October 10, 2020
Yesterday, I blogged that good things come in small packages with my recipe for mini fruit pies. Pretty ironic since I’m living in the great state of Texas where everything is bigger. As a self-proclaimed well-traveled Army wife, it’s time to travel America’s largest state to expand my culinary knowledge.
When I lived at Fort Riley, Kansas, the college town of Manhattan had tantalizing restaurants like So Long Saloon, CoCo Bolos and Harry’s. I still crave the Southern soul from Hamil’s, Keifer’s, Sal & Mookies and Mugshots in Jackson, Mississippi. But I’ve been disappointed with the food options around Fort Hood, Texas. My favorite spot is Cosper’s Country Meat Market, where I can find fresh beef and pork. But restaurant choices, not so much. Applebees and Texas Roadhouse are fine when you’re craving a chain restaurant, but I’ve yet to find a cozy, trendy spot that serves fresh, flavorful, zestuous food.
I’ve spent the past three Saturday’s in Austin. What an awesome town. Multiple farmer’s markets, groceries with fresh meats and produce and tons of local restaurants. Tacodeli was selling small burritos at one of the food markets, and they knocked my socks off. They really know how to pack a bunch of balanced, not too spicy flavors into a tortilla. You don’t even need salsa, but when you add their homemade recipe, it takes each bite to another level.
For this weekend’s journey south, I used the advice of the Travel Channel. Since I was looking to go big, I turned to Man V. Food’s episode on Austin. Adam Richman’s first stop was Round Rock Donuts where they have a donut the size of a toilet seat.
After 30 minutes of inching closer to the door, I made my way into the store. I thought I heard angels sing as the aroma of fresh yeast and sugar hit me in the face. Who could order just one at this point? I refrained from going with the 2-lb. Texas-sized donut and grabbed a few glazed, cake, apple fritters and kolaches (sausage-filled yeast rolls).
The box was warm, and I knew I had to eat a donut right away..okay make that three. They are surprisingly orange, but OMG (for lack of a better word). The dough just melts in your mouth and the sugar crystals add a delicate crunch.
The next stop on my journey was Salt Lick BBQ. You’ve got to love their slogan, “You can smell our pits from miles away.” I don’t know about miles, but when we jumped out of the car, bam – hit in the face again. This time it was oak, pecans, beef and barbecue sauce. There is plenty of room to sit down inside and out, but I ordered a pound of everything to go.
And the place was so awesome they saw me taking pictures and invited me behind the counter to the pit to take some closer shots. Oh the Southern hospitality. They appreciate that people appreciate their food.
The sausage had a nice balance of spices with a smoky after note. The turkey was very juicy and better than any bird I’ve made on Turkey Day. The brisket was so moist it was still juicy when I got it home. And the ribs had a nice crust and tasted even better with the large container of their signature sauce. Next time, I’ll definitely stay there and eat to enjoy the meat straight off the pit.