Now we’ll be lucky if we’ll ever get him to come back.

We noted on Twitter awhile back that Seth Kugel, the New York Times “frugal traveler” was coming to Austin for a $100 weekend of food and merriment to be documented in the paper of record.

He paid some hard dues while he was here. Izzoz Tacos?


Christ, if we came to Austin and those were the two taco joints we ended up at we’d burn rubber out of Texas and join that chorus of know-nothings nationwide that speak of Tex Mex as an abomination instead of hallowing it to its rightful place in the upper stratospheres of regional cuisines.

With dozens of righteous taqueras putting out scratch tortillas and carefully crafted tacos all over Austin it figures that yet another writer with a national voice would end up at two Austin c-grade taquerias. Motto: Slap whatever on a factory tortilla, heave it at the customer and call it a day.

It is amusing that Kugel thought $5.75 for TWO breakfast tacos at Tacodeli was a bargain. Wonder how he would have reacted if he hit up Tamale House for their .92c version?

Of course we would have probably had a new resident if he’d done his proper research and visited El Taco Rico where Chef Yolanda has redefined the entire taco genre for Austin’s taco intelligentsia. Eaters that like to go deep when it comes to seeking intense deliciousness have found her and we hear business is booming down in Montopolis these days.

In Kugel’s defense he does mention that he used the Austin Chronicle for “dining reviews.”

Yep, some folks still dust off ol mossback when it comes time to figure out where to eat. Sad but true.

Kugel also saw “Earl Poole Jones” at Saxon Pub. Guess Earl Poole Ball was out of town and had his country cousin play his normal gig down that way.

The New York based writer did get some good work in while visiting though. He hit Royal Blue Grocery which is one of our very favorite bodegas in town. He also visited Ruby’s Barbecue on the Drag which has been putting out some of Austin’s best smoked meat since back in the 80s. Like many tourists and Austinites who don’t know the town he got hosed at Vivo by paying 10 bucks for a margarita with a flower floating in it.

How many other people have had that sort of Austin welcome followed by a nifty tug on their wallets?

Probably 1000s.

We would have loved to have read Kugel’s thoughts on East Side King at the Grackle. This is one of Paul Qui’s food trailers and is our favorite of the three. The writer mentions Qui’s joint in passing but never speaks of the food.

As a writerly flourish Kugel rounds out his visit by hitting up Ginny’s Little Longhorn for chicken shit bingo on a Sunday afternoon. This is one of our favorite ways to cap off the weekend and is a must visit for any out of towners that we entertain.

We’re happy that he got to see Austin in such a favorable light after his dark journey through some of our mediocre Tex Mex joints.

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