On the way to Austin for SXSW, the members of Canadian band Dinosaur Bones kept a food diary for Paste. Listen to their track “Royalty” from the band’s new album _My Divider (and download it here) while their restaurant diary makes your mouth water.
Byrne Residence – Woodslee, Ont.
Josh’s parents prepared a remarkable dinner for us at their homestead just outside of Windsor. This is the kind of hospitality you can’t buy in restaurants. Enchiladas, nachos, cider—we were in a food-coma heaven! The Enchiladas were wrapped in flour tortillas and covered with aged cheddar cheese, sour cream and diced green onion before being baked together. The Nachos were prepared with fresh lean ground beef baked in taco seasoning before being topped with bell peppers, cheddar cheese, sour cream, and fresh lettuce. After an epic Man vs. Food style battle and a few family portraits, we managed to muster up the stamina to drive on to Kentucky.
Big Bubba Bucks Belly Bustin’ BBQ Bliss – Mumfordville, Kent.
This is one of those beloved truck stops that all the drivers who frequent Kentucky know about. Their slogan, which as best I can tell is completely accurate, is “Taste so good it’ll make you smack your mama”. We were greeted with real Middle American hospitality. The lady working cash doubled her time working the truck radio to bring in customers. From the menu we sampled the pork tenderloin sandwich, barbequed and served with carmalized onions and BBQ sauce on a bun. Branko tried the Hickory-smoked burger grilled out back. Among the sides were pork and beans, coleslaw and baked tater salad. On the way out the door I grabbed a jar of Apple Butter, which I was told compliments fresh baked biscuits amazingly.
Taco Trucks – Austin, Texas
We made it to Austin in one piece! The weather is amazing here and the festival is in full swing. We checked into our hotel and went off to have a few drinks. On the way home we stopped for a guilty pleasure: Taco Bell. We will spare you all the tasty details of their new shrimp taco; but there are other tacos that cannot go unmentioned. In Austin, as well as much of the South, Taco Trucks are a bit of an institution. Favorites include the pulled pork, chicken, black bean & veggie, and a local hit: the smoked brisket. From Rasta Tacos I tried the “African Herbsman,” a veggie taco packed with black beans, caramelized onions in peppercorn, jalapeno ranch, corn salsa and cheese. It’s the stuff vegetarians dream of and meat-lovers secretly crave. One makes a snack and two, a meal. Most of the trucks, however, don’t have much in the way of branding or signage. They are solitary bodies floating out in discrete locations, there for you to stumble into a delicious meal. Over the course of the next few days we collectively all tried the smoked brisket tacos from a number of trucks. Overwhelmingly, all of them were unimaginably delicious. These trucks will be greatly missed when we get back home.
Free Food – Austin, Texas
It wouldn’t say very much of us if we didn’t talk about all the free food that is around for SXSW and how, as a completely broke band, we couldn’t afford not to capitalize. Among a wealth of other treasures, there was free corn chips, salsa and beer in the Artist Lounge, free burgers in the Artist Tent for the afternoons, and free beans, coleslaw & roasted chicken at the Canadian Blast outdoor BBQ show. For whatever little time you can spare between the mass of parties, in-stores and showcases, the hunt for free food and drinks is as much a sport as it is a necessity for the touring band. And a great deal of satisfaction comes from a big find.
HB’s Bar-B-Q – Little Rock, Ark.
When most people think of Little Rock, they think of former American President Bill Clinton’s stomping ground. It’s a quaint town with a whole lot of culture and personality to offer. On our way home we revisited a small BBQ spot in the south that our friends in Hollerado introduced us to last year. HB’s Barbeque might as well be world famous on the basis of its local reputation. Their mind-blowing Texas-BBQ-style ribs are a Monday-only feature; but, with a keen presence of mind, our friends in Hollerado called ahead and requested a special batch for the Tuesday when we arrived.
With a saddle-full of Southern hospitality we were welcomed and seated in a very charming dining room. It seats 32, and once you’ve tasted the food you begin to understand why the men and women in uniform, who are some of the most frequent customers, have to take turns and plan their visits ahead. We order something to the effect of a plate of ribs with a side of Beans and “Stuff,” cole slaw, a frosty milkshake and a slice of apple pie for desert. Any given bite was unimaginable. The “Stuff” included roasted pulled pork and Ringolos among other neat inclusions and was a strangely perfect fit for the beans. The Ribs were beyond words. Incredibly generous portions made with the finest of Southern BBQ seasonings and grilling. The ‘slaw, shake and pie tied everything together into one of those unforgettable “I ate too much” moments.
The hospitality was perhaps the best part. They were incredibly welcoming and ended up taking photos with us, putting one of our records on the wall and grabbing a shirt or two. Definitely a spot we’ll be returning to next year.