Meet Slovacek's, West's New Kolache Stop

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LDD
Traveling to Austin just got a little tastier. The famous kolache-riddled Czech Stop in West, Texas, now has some friendly competition on the other side of the highway called Slovacek's Foods. It actually opened late last year, but we finally got a chance to stop in this week.

The story about Slovacek's [sla-VA-check] actually starts in Snook, Texas, a tiny town southwest of College Station. The company has been processing sausage and meats there since 1957. Then a few years ago, when the current real estate at Exit 353 on the west side of West became available, current owner Tim Rabroker bought it and transformed it into a Czech version of a Buc-ee's, albeit a bit smaller.

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Cafe Brazil Is Going to Denton

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voiceplaces.com
Put a beard on it.
Maybe you've heard, Denton is pretty cool. And not just because of our close proximity to Canada. We're so cool, in fact, that noted Dallas-y places like Rusty Taco and Hypnotic Donuts are starting to find their way north. Way north. Like, caught between the moon and Downtown Daaaaaallas. It's a land of limitless, crazy good live music, open-all-night-and-serving-eggs-of-questionable-safety eateries, and now, (pause for dramatic effect, and so you can fish the french fry out of your crotch you dropped in intense anticipation), a Café Brazil.

The Denton-lovin' blog We Denton Do It reported on their Facebook page Wednesday night that the Dallas-based brunch and post last call legend will take over the now defunct Pizza Inn (501 W University) just north of the UNT campus and across from the busiest Kroger in the history of OH MY GOD WHY IS IT SO BUSY ALWAYS AND FOREVER. So many people buying cat litter at 3 a.m.

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The Daily Meal Re-Routes BBQ Road Trip to Include Dallas

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Last year The Daily Meal published an "Ultimate BBQ Road Trip" that were fightin' words here at the City of Ate. It included parts of Texas (Austin and Huntsville), but flew right through Dallas. Problem was they sent it to us, like "Hey, Mom! Look what we did." There was a pretty extensive amount of pavement between Austin and Davis, Oklahoma, yet they didn't even tap the brakes for the greatness of Pecan Lodge?

BBQ Snob Daniel Vaughn and I slapped their list-inclined hand in reprimand -- actually, Vaughn flipped them off. He's like that. Part of his allure is that he calls it like he sees it. Anyway, in sum, I broke up with The Daily Meal that day.

But we're talking again now. Actually, things are progressing well. We're considering going in on a bus together. It's the "next logical step."


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How to Fail at Franklin Barbecue

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This week, Scott and his harem of hungries braved the line at Dallas' famed meat mecca, Pecan Lodge. While they were taking months off their lives, I was attempting a similar feat in Austin. Upon arriving in Longhorn Land with my dude and our dog, we resolved to do two things: eat tacos and spend a ridiculous amount of money at Franklin Barbecue. The former was easy, the latter not so much.

Following this detailed plan and you, too, can guarantee you'll be having Not Franklin Barbecue for breakfast, lunch and dinner for the next 48 hours and will arrive back home to the disappointment of everyone you've ever met.

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Riding the Beer Trail for a Taste of Shiner, with Stops for BBQ

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Jaime-Paul Falcon
We're living in the golden age of Texas beer. Seriously, we are -- there are craft breweries popping up all around the state, our major cities are seeing growler-filling shops opening up and giving us the chance to take home brews that aren't available in bottle or cans, and we're being graced by multiple beer-centric festivals this month.

With the Texas Senate passing a round of bills that would allow in-state brewpubs the right to sell to distributors and finally letting breweries sell their products on site (though with restrictions, and still pending approval from the House and governor, and knowing our governor who knows what will happen), I started thinking about the new tradition of spending a day touring a brewery, learning about its history and process, and then sampling some of the brewery's hard work in the form of frothy, delicious goodness.

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Mary's Cafe: A Guide to Getting Fat(ter) on Spring Break

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Spring break season is here. Even if you're an adult with a real job and you say things like "demographic" and, "my HMO is such an asshole," you can still pretend like you're granted that magic week in March sans responsibility.

Because I've decided to accumulate degrees instead of typing up TPS reports and owning real pants, I still get to bask in the glory of spring break. So I got wild last week and headed west with one thing on my agenda: chicken-fried steak. Obviously, the first step to looking terrible in a bathing suit come June is chicken-fried steak. If you really want to ensure your buoyancy whilst bobbing in the murky waters of the Gulf of Mexico this summer, make sure several mountains of mashed potatoes accompany your CFS. Gravy is required. Apparently the best place in the state of Texas to accomplish this task is at Mary's Café in Strawn, so I went to there. I'm just now writing about it because I've been asleep ever since.

Disclaimer: I was unaware of this chicken-fried steak oasis until our own Lauren Drewes Daniels dropped the knowledge a while back on Texas Chicken Fried Steak Day. Bless her. It was quite the experience, so I offer to you dear Aters a comprehensive guide to gaining weight right before summer.

Step 1: Go to Strawn
It's rather easy to find, even if you have that clusterfuck version of Google Maps. Here, let me help: get on Interstate 20. It's long and kind of looks like I-30 but it's not because 30 is not the same as 20. Once you pull your shit together and find I-20, go west. If you go to Abilene because you're too busy texting LDD about your impromptu trip to Mary's, you've gone too far. You've also just gone to Abilene, which sucks. So turn around and find exit 361. Go north for 3 or 4 miles; Mary's is on the right. Put your car in their parking lot. Go inside and put your ass in one of their chairs. Pay no attention to the woman with gravy on her shirt taking pictures of her food, it was my first time.There's a Virgin Mary joke around here somewhere.


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The 30 Essential Texas Restaurants: Plus Some That Nearly Made It


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Photo by Katharine Shilcutt
La Gloria in San Antonio






If you've read this week's feature -- The 30 Essential Texas Restaurants to Visit Before You Die -- by food critic Katharine Shilcutt at our sister paper the Houston Press, then you've no doubt already asked why X, Y or Z restaurant didn't make the list. Maybe you've asked this question angrily to your computer, or rhetorically to a coworker who actually tried to answer the question. Neither of these situations will provide a satisfactory answers, of course, so maybe this will help.

Below are the 13 restaurants that kept getting mentioned again and again by our food writers and nearly made it, but just didn't get that final vote or two to push them over the top. These are the Dan Marinos of our list -- the Superbowl shut-outs that almost had a taste of sweet, sweet Astroturf.

Alternately, you could think of these 13 restaurants as an extension to the top 30 list, in case 30 just wasn't enough to satiate you. They're arguably as important as some of the others that made the top 30 list and represent an even broader swath of Texas. Tack these 13 on to the end of the top 30 and play the whole list on "expert" level.

Restaurants are listed alphabetically and, as with our 30 list, are not ranked:

Barley Swine, Austin
Notable for: Being a restaurant. Chef Bryce Gilmore once ran the Odd Duck Farm to Trailer -- probably Austin's most popular food truck for a long while -- and eventually opened this brick-and-mortar gastropub to serve his food full-time in a small plate format that features locally-grown produce. Barley Swine takes its beer as seriously as its wine, too.


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Cowtown Gets a 15-Passenger Beer Bike and Our Jealousy Burns Slightly More Than Our Legs Will

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Cowtown Cycle Pub
Remember this? The beer bike that was banned in Germany because of all the ruckus it caused on the roadway? We can't imagine how 15 drunk people pedaling a bike through a busy city could possibly be a distraction, but we honestly wanted to find out for ourselves.

Well, our neighbor to the west has just done that. Thrillist Sarah Blaskovich with Pegasus News reported earlier this week that the Cowtown Cycle Pub is now up and pedaling. According to the website, groups of up to 15 people can rent the bike (yes, there's just one for now) for a two-hour tour through downtown Fort Worth. They provide the driver and the bike is propelled by riders, who are free to stay properly hydrated in BYOB fashion, which excludes glass containers and hard liquor. That would leave beer, or you could just bring water or cucumber limon Gatorade. The company itself does not sell or serve alcohol.

And, tricky part here, according to the FAQ page, "You must be on the bike to consume alcohol -- no stepping off with a drink." I'm sure lots of booing is involved for errant riders/drinkers.

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Scenes from Denton's Friday Night Bites

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SB
The city of Denton enjoyed a wildly successful turnout at Friday Night Bites this weekend as more than 3,000 hungry people huddled around the Denton Downtown Transit Center (604 E. Hickory St.), celebrating the A-train's extended Friday service (past midnight!) to and from Dallas. It was bitterly cold (for this native Texan), windy, but the crowds arrived. Puffs of warm breath could be seen escaping upwards from the hundreds of small clumps of food truck fans.

The trucks lined up in a massive L-shape right across from the Municipal Court, the whirring and humming gradually drowned out by the noise of horde. Through scarves and hooded jackets, I heard countless times the muffled excitement of the crowd, most saying, "Finally, food trucks in Denton."

Denton's lively music scene and rapidly growing craving for all things delicious makes it the perfect town for a food truck, especially after sundown. The population is thick with students and night owls, wielding debit cards and an insatiable appetite for something other than Whataburger. The city is still working on a permanent food truck ordinance, but was more than happy to provide a special permit for this event.

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Leon's Real Fine Bar-B-Que in Waxahachie with Real Fine Pulled Pork

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Leon's Fine Bar-B-Que
This past Sunday I was in Waxahachie on account of a little baseball tournament. There was a big break between games, so we went in search of a something local and, hopefully, interesting to eat.

But, that's hard to do in small towns on Sundays because most mom-and-pops are closed. I understand Mom and Pop are tired and need a day off. One of the few places open was Leon's Real Fine Bar-B-Que, which is an old bank just a block off the Waxie town square. (Disclaimer: Barbecue is a little heavy for a pregame meal, so we had to sort of take it easy. No ribs.)

First of all, Leon's has good ambiance. There are several bright red picnic tables outside to take in the clean, crepe myrtle-laced air (Waxie is the crepe myrtle capital of the world galaxy). Inside, Leon's has been haphazardly adorned with vintage décor, and it's a little cheesy. But, not lame cheesy. Fun cheesy.


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