This past week, Jacob and I went to Austin, Texas. Tinker sent Jacob to a training program Monday-Friday from 8:30-5 during the day, and so I decided to tag along to Austin and see what was what. We left on Monday morning and arrived at the Hyatt Place Arboretum hotel in the afternoon. BTW, this hotel was really underwhelming. I mean, I had to tell the cleaning people to clean our room twice. So no, I don’t really recommend it. Also, the traffic there was totally crazy, and I was really uncomfortable driving around. I really only ventured out a few places for some shopping and sightseeing and spent the rest of the time working in the hotel and hanging out by the pool.
But what I really want to tell you about is the food. Austin is known for their “Keep Austin Weird” slogan, and part of their weirdness is their weirdly awesome food. They had food truck parks, where you could park in a parking lot, walk up to a truck and order tacos, burgers, sandwiches, vegetarian dishes, cake balls, you name it. This area had pretty tasty food that was inexpensive, and there was a lot of variety. There are 5-star restaurants throughout their metro, as well as dives and diners of all shapes and sizes, and the selection of food is endless. But the coolest place we went for dinner during our time in Austin was the Black Star Co-op in North Austin.
Black Star Co-op is a fast casual restaurant and brewery that is run by a community, which means that the people who eat there also work there. The members pay dues and receive a percentage off the price of the food, and their duties rotate from cooking, cleaning, working the register, etc. Every working member is paid a living wage, so there’s no need to leave a tip. You have to bus your own table, but I think that’s a small price to pay for not having to leave a tip.
The restaurant is industrial looking, and they have hydroponic gardens hanging from the ceiling. The chairs and tables are pretty simple looking, and everything in the restaurant was very clean, despite the “bus your own table” rule. I think that giving diners free reign of a restaurant actually brought out responsibility in people. It was the opposite of what I expected.
The menu is pretty delicious, with a selection of different American-style dishes like sandwiches, burgers, fried chicken, french fries, salads, and so on. Jacob got the Black Star burger with fries, and I got the fried chicken with fries. It came out really fast, and it was scrumptious. A perfect combination. While we waited for our food, we read up a little bit on the restaurant:
The drink menu was pretty interesting. They brew their own beers on site, and they divide them into “rational” and “irrational,” which I didn’t really understand the difference between. But their pint glasses were really neat looking, and they had stars etched into the bottom. We bought a pair as souvenirs.
Right as we were about to leave, I spied a man near the entrance who appeared to be knitting something. I looked closer (and tried to get a picture), and it turned out he was knitting an orange cozy for his pint glass.
BIZARRO. I mean, knitting is one thing. Knitting orange anything is just downright strange (I hate SAXET). And knitting an orange cozy for your beer is even weirder. To top it off, a MAN was doing all of these things. I’m not not trying to discriminate. But I am saying Austin’s weird. Too weird for me.
But if you’re ever in North Austin, you should check out the Black Star Co-op and Brewery. It’s worth it.