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A Week in Texas

By now it’s probably become apparent that we’ve moved all our boat-related updates and travel to our other site, Slowboat, and since most of the travel we do during the summer is by boat, there hasn’t been much news here on Riveted. But we spent last week on business in Texas and visited a few cool spots while we were there, so I thought I’d share!

We started in San Antonio and had a quick visit with Kevin’s mom. We usually try to take her out to dinner someplace cool when we’re in town, and since we’d gone to Cured the last two times we visited, we opted to try a new place this time — Clementine. It’s small and bright, the food was creative and delicious, and the service was spot on. I took no photos, but we’d definitely go back.

In the morning, we headed back to the airport to pick up our rental car and drove into Austin for our first set of meetings. Road Trip!!! I’d found us a little boutique hotel (which turned out to be absolutely lovely) called Austin’s Inn at Pearl.

Austin’s Inn at Pearl

The inn is actually several small buildings that each contain a few rooms, each distinct in their decoration. We were early, but were told our room was ready and directed to this room below, which turned out not to be our room, but was very cute. (It’s called the Library Room and is located on the ground floor of the main yellow building. Our room was actually the Bombay Room, and was on the second floor of the blue building behind, and was wonderful, but I took no photos of it.)

The Library Room at Inn at Pearl

For dinner, we returned to one of our longtime favorites in Austin, Uchiko. We had the chef’s tasting omakase, and again, took no photos, but it was incredible, as usual. Just check out some of the gorgeous food photos (from their website) and you’ll get the idea:

While in Austin, we also tried a new taco place, just down the street from where we stayed, called Keso’s Tacos. We shared a handful of tacos so we could try more than two. Along with the usual carnitas (great), barbacoa, and fish, they have fried avocado tacos, brisket tacos, and one of our favorites, the “Fire Chick” which has hand-battered fried chicken (fried in their Fire Red salsa), lettuce, pico de gallo, and is topped with cilantro ranch & queso, served on a flour tortilla. Delicious!

Next, it was on to Dallas on Thursday. Dallas is about a 3.5 hour drive from Austin, but we had no meetings on Thursday so we took our time and decided to stop in Waco for a little exploring. If you ever watch HGTV you probably know who Chip and Joanna Gaines are. If you don’t, they’re a couple with an extremely popular show called Fixer Upper, which has morphed into a gigantic successful brand that now has its own television network called Magnolia Network. They specialize in turning what starts out as kind of a crappy house into a farmhouse chic, magazine-photo-shoot-ready abode, and they do it well with a fairly specific aesthetic. (Shiplap!!!)

Anyway, we stopped in Waco and decided to check out the Magnolia Market at the Silos (because old silos! turned into a market!), which as it turns out, is a boutique home decor market that is also part of the Chip and Joanna Gaines thing). However, there was a big event going on there on this day and all the roads adjacent to the market were blocked off for event parking and tour buses and such. We googled and learned the event was called Silobration, which was basically an expanded home decor fair with local artisans in matching white booths lining the street out in front of the Market at the Silos, plus a handful of food trucks, and a stage with live music. We parked a few blocks away and made our way to the entrance, through security (yep, security, with scanners and everything). We walked the street/aisle flanked by several dozen booths where artisans displayed their clothing, leather bags, candles, jewelry, etc., most of them with the same color palette as everything else in the Magnolia Market. Don’t get me wrong, it’s a very nice aesthetic, it’s just strange to see almost everything in the same place, from different designers, all with the same muted palette. Even the attendees had a themed similarity to them! Mostly young 30-something women, often with kids, many with long hair all curled with the same curling iron tecnique, all carrying stylish little bags with perfect little goodies inside. It was pretty great, actually.

Magnolia Market at the Silos, during Silobration 2019
Silobration, with people taking photos out front with Chip’s parents (yes, really)
Silos Baking Company, Waco TX

We walked around for a bit, went in and out of the market, and then headed the several blocks back to our rental car and moved on.

Mural near the silos

We parked down by the river and took a walk along the waterfront, and then across the Brazos River and back via the Waco Suspension Bridge. Here’s some info on the plaque at the base:

Waco Suspension Bridge with several of the (many) bronze cattle sculptures leading up to it

The Waco Suspension Bridge was built as a way to get cattle across the Brazos River. It was part of the Chisolm Trail, used during the post-Civil War era to drive cattle overland from ranches in Texas to Kansas railheads.

View from the suspension bridge

The Brazos River appears to be home to some cool-looking water birds, some biggish fish we didn’t get more than a quick glance at as they briefly splashed the surface, as well as a whole lot of red-eared sliders (turtles!)

Red-eared sliders and birds in the Brazos River

After our walk along the river, we continued on to Dallas. We checked into our hotel and did some work for a bit, and then we headed off to another restaurant I found that sounded interesting, this one in the Deep Ellum neighborhood of Dallas. It’s called the Purepeche Room, and is in the back room of a spot called Revolver Taco Lounge.

Revolver Taco Lounge wall paintings
Revolver Taco Lounge, bathroom graffiti

The Purepecha Room has two seatings per night, holds 14 people max, and the menu is a fixed price tasting menu prepared by the chef and his mom in the kitchen that opens right into the seating area. (On this night, it was the chef’s aunt filling in for his mom while she was out of town.) 🙂

Kitchen, from our table

The place is small and quaint and feels a little like you’re hanging out in someone’s home while they cook for you. We had the early seating (6:00pm) and as it turned out we were the only ones there. The food was fantastic and I actually did manage to take some photos this time.

Chef Regino Rojas puts the final touches on what turned out to be my favorite dish of the night (ceviche, pictured below)
Ceviche with spot prawn, grapefruit, cucumber, leaves and flowers, salmon roe, fresh fish (I forgot what kind) and a little bit of puffed rice for texture. The flavors in this dish were amazing!
This was a braised lamb dish with rice and potatoes and homemade tortillas, with a delicious broth
I think this was pheasant mole, with rice and a grilled fig
Pork carnitas and quail with salsas

Everything was wonderful, and we’d definitely come back, but I’d like to see them slow down a bit. There was so much food and we were completely finished by 7:30pm. We could definitely have benefitted from a little more time to breathe between courses. Since the second seating isn’t until 8:30pm, seems like there would be enough time to spread things out a little better. Also, the waitress was exceptionally sweet, but seemed very new. She recommended we have white wine with the first four courses and red with the second four, but then recommended a bottle that was $105, which didn’t come by the glass. What would we have done with a whole bottle of wine for the first four courses that came out so rapidly? Anyway, we did some by-the-glass wines that worked out great. Dessert was wonderful (traditional flan and a small slice of local pecan pie), but the coffee!!! Oh my goodness the coffee was fabulous. Café de olla is a traditional Mexican coffee with panela (whole cane sugar) and cinnamon, cooked on the stovetop and served in an earthen clay pot. Super yum!

We walked around the neighborhood a bit after dinner, gave the guy who promised to “watch our car” a few bucks, then headed back to our hotel.

Friday after the rest of our meetings, we caught our evening flight back to Portland. We’re now home and in the middle of a gigantic purging push, which consists of cleaning out the garage, closets, and other hidey-holes, getting rid of stuff we don’t use anymore, and many, many, many trips to Goodwill. We seem to do this every time we get back from a summer on that boat (just not as well as we’re doing it now), when we are once again reminded just how little we need to be happy — in fact, it’s the opposite. The “stuff” eventually becomes the boss, and gets in the way of so many things. It feels good to be getting rid of more. I’d like to be able to relax and breathe at home as well as we are able to do on the boat!