We’re in love with Cenote Cafe. The new kids in East Austin’s coffee game have come hard out of the chute. We come here for ice-cold, Texas micro-brews, fresh brewed Cuvee coffee and some of the best pastries in Austin.

Whoever’s providing their baked goods is near the top of the pastry game in town. Special note must be made of the brownie, normally a throwaway at most cafes, this one is reminiscent of mom’s version-an Eastern Kentucky legend known as the “chocolate embolism.” So very good.

Ambiance is fine. Should you choose to sit inside, there’s a giant, velvet couch that you may sprawl out on while you waste your life away on tumblr or pinterest. The front porch has a handful of tables that afford a view of the hobos staggering down the sidewalk that butts up against Cesar Chavez, and there’s a bit of yard seating as well.

Plenty to like at Cenote Cafe.

previous Cenote coverage here.

With a fridge full of country ham scraps from the legendary Benton’s Country Hams out of Madisonville, Tennessee I had to think fast for a dish in which to implement them or they would be consigned to the freezer.

A freezer already filled with dozens of packets of meats from the four corners of USA. I decided to make a ham broth and use that as a base for a big kettle of Hoppin John, one of my favorite stews on earth.

Since we were having a day with temps in the 80s I wrestled the pressure cooker out of the cupboard, set up the mise en place and got ready to cook.

As we all know Hoppin John is a dish that fills a household with both good smells and good luck. Feel like you need to amp up the luckiness factor in your life? Then here’s this recipe

Buford Wiley’s Barbecue In Lubbock Texas

The abundance of mesquite in West Texas figures heavily in pit boss emeritus [and owner] Buford Wiley’s choice of wood for his old timey barbecue joint on Lubbock’s Northeast side.

On a recent visit we ran the table at Mr. Wiley’s little restaurant and came to the conclusion that his mesquite source is a good one as the signature raw, creosote flavor that’s normally associated with the wood was missing. Old mesquite can be good wood for a meat fire.

While Buford Wiley’s eponymous operation has only been open for 17 years his work in the field dates back even further to when he toiled part time as a pit man and worked full time as a school teacher at Dunbar High School.

One thing we noted during a busy lunch, the other patrons were almost all eating fried catfish platters and/or enormous hamburgers. Probably neighborhood regulars taking a break from the smoked meat we reckoned.

The brisket is overly tender and has a steamed quality that’s a bit off-putting. It’s blazing hot as though it’s seen the inside of microwave in the very recent past.

The pork spare rib is better. It’s at a normal temperature and has a bit of a chew to it. Mr Wiley explains that this is what Coach Knight gets on his frequent visits.

The building, in a nearly abandoned vintage plaza, is charming in a rough and tumble sort of way. It reminds us of old, 70’s era restaurants on the fringes of deep south towns like Atlanta or Birmingham.

We ate at a brace of barbecue restaurants in Lubbock recently and Wiley’s had the best barbecue pork rib of the lot. While it’s not worthy of a road trip from Austin just for the barbecue if you’re in the Lubbock area it’s a worthy option.

July 28th of 2011 will go down in Austin barbecue folk lore as a dark day in our town’s history.

This was the day that “Operation Meat Locker”, a covert sting operation ran by Austin Police Department, came to a head with arrests at 3 area restaurants.

La Morenita, Willie’s Barbecue and Sam’s Barbecue were all implicated in the affair with police alleging that the 3 restaurants were engaging in black market meat purchases from brisket bandits who were smuggling foods out of area HEB Supermarkets. We had breaking coverage here We found it hard to believe that an iconic, East Side fixture like Sam’s would engage in such behavior and now it appears that our disbelief was well founded.

We ran by Sam’s earlier tonight for a smoked chicken supper and pit boss/owner Brian Mays related to us that his legal troubles are almost behind him.

He has one final court appearance on February 24th. Should he prove victorious he will be vindicated and his restaurant will be able to move forward and put the affair behind them.

La Morenita was not so fortunate. Their business closed and did not reopen.

We covered the re-opening of Sam’s Barbecue: link

Saying goodbye to an old friend.

We spotted a Dublin Dr Pepper in the fridge at Once Over Coffee Bar and immediately pounced on it. It could very well prove to be the last one we ever drink.

Like 1000s of other Texans we are now in the Mr Pibb camp. This sorry state of affairs was brought on by Snapple Corporation’s cowing of the Dublin Dr Pepper Bottling Company and said companies subsequent transformation into Dublin Bottling Works Inc.

We covered the fiasco here

That was a black day in the great state of Texas history

and were also all over the affair when the lawsuits were first filed way back in summer of 2011

Boycotts are being organized as we speak. We’ll be penning an article on the fallout from Snapple Corporations egregious misconduct.

The Reverend James A Davis of Davis Barbecue In Taylor Texas

Man of God.

It’s rare but we occasionally meet a man whose charisma is so profound we feel the need to get up bright and early on Sunday morning and carry ourselves to church. Then we met James A Davis of Davis Grocery Barbecue up in Taylor. This is a man of God. He only preaches occasionally and we have yet to see him speak but his rhetoric at his tiny barbecue house near the railroad tracks in Taylor is fascinating.

Read about how the good reverend honors the Lord through brisket

Maybe the New York Times doesn’t understand the magnitude of the Texas classic casserole King Ranch. Otherwise our entry in one of their recipe contests a few years back would’ve emerged victorious. Here’s a pic of one of our versions. We wrote the rules of King Ranch and they need to be memorized if you’re to have any hope of success link

Once you have that part down you can then attempt the recipe link

and if you can’t fathom doing it yourself then you can always call these gals and they’ll show up at your doorstep with one….for a price link

Gil’s Barbecue Shack in Ellinger Texas

One of our favorite under the radar barbecue joints in the state of Texas is Gil Vrazel’s little spot down in Ellinger, Texas.

We ride through there a few times a year on our way to New Orleans, Northport Alabama or Knox County Kentucky and we always make sure we do so on the weekend so we can stop in and visit with the pit boss, Mary. There aren’t a lot of female pit bosses in Texas. There’s probably been a study written on why but for now we’ll content ourselves with the fact that Mary puts out some of the finest handmade sausage and brisket we’ve ever had the pleasure of eating.

She got a kick out of us trolling around back of the tiny barbecue stand to take a picture of their old sign.

“Nobody ever wants to take a picture of our new sign, they always circle around back and take a picture of that ol thing.”

If you’re ever down in Ellinger do not neglect stopping in at Gil’s Barbecue. This is elite level smoked meat and you could not hope to meet a nicer lady than Mary.

pic of Mary

and all barbecue coverage here

In the year 2000 the Chandler family purchased a defunct Taco Bell and one of the great soul food restaurants in the USA was born. Expect three different kinds of greens:collards, turnip and mustard, as folks who are in the know have strong feelings about the differences between the lot.

A portrait of Jesus and his apostles holds sway over the room which is filled with a melting pot of Knoxvillians all gathered together for one thing. Honest food, huge portions and y’all come back now-style service.

We love the catfish, chicken and dumplings and pork ribs but always make sure we only eat half our plate so we can have a slice of the best coconut pie we’ve ever had in a restaurant [sorry Johnny Ray’s].

Owner, Gwen Chandler caught us taking a picture of a newspaper article on her wall that included the formula and laughed cause apparently lots of folks do the exact same thing..

We don’t make it to Knoxville very often but when we do you’ll find us at Chandler’s Deli hunkered down over an enormous meat n three platter in the finest repurposing of a Taco Bell in the USA

Kyle Walton Of Waco Boys Cooking Team

Tell me this guy doesn’t know his way around a barbecue pit. We like our pit bosses to look like pit bosses and Mr. Walton fills the bill.

He heads up the Waco Boys Cooking Team, a group of men from Waco Texas who live for barbecue, Texas and cold beer. Their recent appearance at the Brady Texas World Championship BBQ Goat Cook-Off saw the team walk away with the coveted “hospitality” award.

The men set up an encampment that was essentially a cross between a commercial kitchen and a full bar. Barbecue pits, deep fryers, the best travel cooler we can find and campers littered the site in Richards Park in Brady Texas.

Hundreds of people made their way through the camp, each leaving with a big plate of expertly cooked food and enough beer to send them straight to the hoosegow.

No matter, it’s live and let live in Brady unless you’re spoiling for a fight in which case you’re going straight to jail.

Visiting with the Waco Boys Cooking Team is one of the highlights of the Texas barbecue circuit we’ve found ourselves on these past few years.

all Austin Daily Photos here http://www.scrumptiouschef.com/food/Austin-Daily-Photo

all barbecue coverage here http://www.scrumptiouschef.com/food/Barbecue