while much of the cliche about Texas and size panned out in monuments, animals, and trucks, the food portions weren’t as astronomical as I anticipated. and while I wouldn’t say the taste was “bigger,” everything I ate was quite delicious and often quite inventive. note to self: always get recommendations from a friend who grew up in the area and knows what a good vegetarian meal ought to look like.
first up: a surprisingly sweet black bean burger at The Hobbit Cafe, where many of the dishes were named after locations, characters, and things from the series. My sandwich didn’t have a fun name, but it certainly made up for the oversight with the taste. Made pretty good (and again quite interesting) leftovers on Sunday!
on Monday, we drove up to Austin and our first stop was Torchy’s Tacos, where I encountered the wonder that was a taco with fried avocado. really, what did I do with my life before I ate avocado? I do not know!
lastly, we tried out Teala’s for some Tex-Mex on a rainy Tuesday night. pretty standard fare, but wonderful bean dip and a unique peanut mole sauce, inspired by the restaurant owner’s first property, a Thai restaurant.
designed by Elijah Myers in 1881 (who was later all but fired from the project), the current statehouse in Texas was completed in 1888. the previous structure burned to the ground and the fledgling state did not have the funds to pay for construction of a new building. instead, a barter transaction granted over three million acres of ranch land to people who could provide the construction material and manpower to complete the project. that acreage became the XIT Ranch, at one time the largest cattle ranch in the world (and mentioned in Timothy Egan’s Worst Hard Time). initially, the facade was intended to be limestone but, when this proved undesirable due to discoloration, it was replaced by the now distinctive red granite from Marble Falls.
the building has nearly 900 windows and more square footage than any other state capitol building. it’s slightly smaller than the capitol in D.C., but is 15 feet taller.