There’s a new list written about Austin almost every day. Many of them involve food.
I’m no stranger to lists. Do them quite often myself. Done well, they can be informative (good for the reader). They can also be derivative, lazy, and offer zero text or context (good for nobody).
They’re also page-view generators (good for the site) and earn freelancers money (good for the writer).
I also know how difficult it can be to write about food in other cities; it’s part of my job. That task can lead to stereotyping and relying on images from the past. Images that may be dated, or inaccurate.
While I’m not in the business of going around wagging my finger and giving my snarky two cents about every list, I thought I’d weigh in on the recent inanity from Huffington Post, a list of 23 quintesential Austin food stuffs that reads like it was written four years ago. And, yes, I realize the headline mentions people who "have lived" in Austin, so some of the dated places could still make sense on this list. I call that a CYA move. (And, yes, I also realize responding to the list just gives it more attention.)
A few nits:
1. "First and foremost, Kerbey Lane’s queso is not ‘just melted cheese.’"
Yea, neither is Matt’s El Rancho’s or Torchy’s or several dozen other places.
2. "No one can make pad Thai as fast as Madam Mam’s can."
Despite the lack of any empirical evidence on HuffPo’s or my part, I would imagine Sap’s would refute the above claim.
4. "If you want a Franklin’s brisket sandwich for lunch, you’d better show up at 9am."
Who lines up at Franklin for brisket sandwiches?
5. "Before the cleanse craze, juicing helped keep Austin weird."
True. But HuffPost uses a pic that is several years old. The business shown is now called JuiceLand. There are six locations, with a seventh on the way. Daily Juice has locations downtown and in Westlake. I doubt either business appreciates the error.
6. "Nothing cures a hangover better than breakfast tacos at Juan In A Million…"
This is obviously a matter of opinion, but it feels hackneyed. I go one of two ways for my hangovers: The Dandy Don at Olivia (frites, goat chili, cheddar cheese, pickled serrano peppers, and two fried eggs) or a healthy option of a fresh coconut and a Veggie Kingdom from the aforementioned JuiceLand.
11. "You can totally have a great meal in a parking lot …"
At Counter Culture? Oh, you mean the brick-and-mortar restaurant on East Cesar Chavez that hasn’t operated from a trailer off North Loop in years.
22. "Never go to Home Slice hungry — prepare to wait for at least an hour."
Or a grab a slice at the window next door. In the building that probably wasn’t open the last time the person who wrote this visited Austin.
And this is without taking exception with the tired list of overused list-inhabitants such as Salt Lick and Magnolia Café.
What they got right: Tiff’s Treats are perfect anytime and if someone else is paying, you go to Uchi (though if they wanted to be contemporary, they could have said Barley Swine, or Congress or Qui).