Category Archives: texas

VIVO- I live, I live, I am a restaurant!

The candle wall- watch for hot wax! Or, go looking for it...

The new Vivo location is open! I think “I live” is a little high-and-mighty a name for a restaurant. I would name my restaurant something a little more descriptive, like COMO, or “I eat!” But whatevs. The north side of Austin finally has a place for the Barbies and Kens of the area to go out for date night, pick up other Barbies and Kens, and have some good ol’ “healthier” Tex-Mex fare.

Plus, 18 and up- that’s the best way to get me to frequent any spot! No screaming kids, no messes for the waitstaff, and no watching your language- say the F word all you like and don’t get dirty glares from your neighbors! The racy art here is the reason, the owner Roger Diaz made this last-minute decision before opening to avoid possibly offending, and for the most part patrons have approved of the idea.

The artists are all from San Antonio, where Diaz has his roots (his mother owns a popular Tex-Mex restaurant on the Riverwalk.) Gilbert Duran was commissioned for some of the focal art, the gold nudes that are placed above each black leather booth. Carla Veliz’ round, feminine figures bring a splash of Mexican vibrancy and color, and another San Antonio artist whose name I forget provided the black-and-white photo collages.

My favorite sexy lady

The restaurant is the second Vivo to open in Austin, and hopes to mirror the popularity of the Manor location. The restuarant plans to have an extensive patio finished by summertime, which is sure to add to the draw for after-work drinks and dinner. They have good food, with less lard and more vegetarian options- one of the specialties is the puffy tacos, the best thing I’ve had here is the shrimp enchiladas which are a weekend special- BOMB-ASS green sauce and grilled shrimp.

The decor and feel of the place is very feminine, sexy, and club-like, with great lighting and plenty of places to get cozy. They’re currently only open for dinner, and they just began happy hour daily from 4-7. Check it out, $1 off beers, $2 of cocktails (my favorite is the Vivo Ria, sangria made with tequila, also love the house margarita with cucumber puree.) The drinks are pricy, so take advantage!

Long, sleek, modern bar

Disclaimer: I am working part-time here. I want you to come in and spend money, on tips to me! If I wasn’t working here, I would totally be hanging out here anyway. And from what customers are saying, they are all very grateful to have a place on the north side that provides some ambiance and some “Austin” without having to drive all the way downtown.

I like a little sex with my Tex-mex...

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How did I end up here??

Yep

Hard to believe, but some people feel that way

OK, so maybe I am known for being in random places at strange times. This time was another gig that I acquired in a means that was round-about, through-some-people-who-know-some-other-people, and besides I can really use the money so anyone who offers to pay me usually piques my interest.

It was posed to me as a “last-minute, can you come down here tomorrow?” way to make a little extra money selling flags. No problem, I can do that. I’ve sold wine, train trips, and food before. Flags will be easy. Little did I know that I would end up in the middle of a conservative rally, one which schooled me on the validity, nay the GODLINESS of what they report on Fox News.

I agree, in theory, that government spending will not fix the national debt. That most government-run programs are inefficient, spend too much money, and result in poorer service. But NOT having healthcare is also not an option that’s working too well for us. Obama has to do something, and I don’t know if what’s he’s working on is the best solution…but come on people, Obama is the devil? And seriously, you STILL don’t believe in global warming?? I thought people like this were a joke of a stereotype, unfortunately not so. I heard “We watch Fox News, we’re smart!” “NOBAMA!” and various other surprising rallying calls from a supposedly bipartisanship effort- this Tea Party Express Tour that’s been going from coast-to-coast spreading the word. About thugs in Congress, and how Obama sucks, and stuff. And I was right in the middle selling conservative buttons, which included “Stop Global Whining” the old “Obama as the Joker” image and other hilarious sayings. They sold pretty well. I felt like a turncoat, even though I wouldn’t describe myself as a liberal or a conservative. I feel too strongly about too many issues on the opposite sides of these parties to lump myself with the rest. I have to go Independent, because I really think the death penalty is a good thing, like to carry a gun, and wholeheartedly believe in a woman’s right to choose on abortion and that we have to do something about our oil consumption. Besides, I didn’t hear a great solution besides “hand these thieves a pink slip,” and they never mentioned the fact that these ousted politicians would only be replaced by more politicians just like them. Doesn’t sound like a fix to me.

Anyway. I skulked among the “Don’t Tread on Me” flags, took surreptitous photos, and generally marvelled. It was my birthday, and I was glad to be in a spot I never expected. If I ask for anything on my birthday, it’s for the unexpected and memorable. Thanks for supporting the effort! (This was the least  hypocritical thing I could say to the button purchasers, so I’ll sign off with that line.)

TC’s rocks the East side

I reiterate that dive bars are sweet. More than just a dive, though, TC’s is an authentic neighborhood bar, one where everyone knows the two ladies that run the bar, everyone knows the regular drunks that frequent the spot, and you can go there looking totally trashed out and no one cares. When you walk up to TC’s, you aren’t quite sure if it’s a bar, which means there’s a lot of people in town that you’ll never catch here. And I like that about it.

Is it a bar? A crack house? Better, it's TC's!

We went this past Wednesday to see Soul Track Mind, local soul band, and send off a Couchsurfer who’s felt the call to get back on the road after a few fun months in Austin. The music is good, and everyone gets out on the dance floor and shakes it, even without air conditioning. I don’t think I could last in here during the summer. You’re dripping with sweat in minutes and rubbing it all over everybody, but unfortunately it goes both ways. If I was anointing the masses with my body sweat, that’s one thing. When they anoint you back sometimes it’s frightening. I’ve also never felt a dance floor sway down far enough to hit the foundation. I have a feeling one of these days it will collapse and fling all the soul-lovers straight down to hell.

TC’s has a cover most of the time when there’s music, they say $5, but there wasn’t one on Wednesday. They also have free food- it was just hot dogs this time, but I’ve heard once in a while there’s real, good home-cooked chow.

If you want to be real “East-siders” try to avoid Wednesday night, which they call “white night” cuz the whiteys like Soul Track Mind and everyone flocks here almost turning it into busy central bar. I think the rest of the time it’s pretty chill, though I heard tell that Monday also gets crazy sometimes. Very fun place. Hang out back by the dumpsters for extra fun.

It’s not a sex club..that’s a bummer

I like to be hip, so that means on the occasion that I’m the first person I know to hear of a place, it’s cool to go there. Cuz then I’m hip. I discovered Lustre Pearl accidentally while walking past in the evening- don’t ask why I was walking in this area I probably couldn’t find any parking closer than I-35. At first it looked like a house party. Then I saw the hula hoops on the walls and the lack of signage, so then I thought it might be a scandalous private kind of club. Obviously I had to go there immediately. Walking around the front, it’s still not apparent it’s a bar, but the sign  “Lustre Pearl” gave me enough to go on.

Lustre Pearl at night

Lustre Pearl at night

Back when I first checked it out, their website just said temptingly “We’re open.” Now, in the busy part of the waning summer, it’s a happening place with a huge backyard and a very austin food truck parked outside. It’s a little like partying at a friend’s house back in college, with plenty of places to sit and a welcoming feel.

Lustre Pearl's backyard feel

Lustre Pearl's backyard feel

The owners are developing this area into the next “hot spot” of the downtown scene, probably much to the chagrin of the people that still actually live here. The bar is a renovated old house, with most of the rooms made to look intact, a nice bar, and decent drink specials. Try the “oldest beer in Texas”, Pearl. Or not. It’s like PBR, cheap and nasty. Plus, hula hoops!

Oldest beer in Texas...try at own risk

Oldest beer in Texas...try at own risk

 

My hoops skills

My hoops skills

I’m afraid this place is soon to be a 6th-street-type college bar, but check it out now. It has great potential as long as it attracts great clientele.

Mexicans are great

 You’d think the cops in Mexico only hassle the tourists. Funny thing is, I’ve never gotten hassled until I started hanging out with actual Mexicans that live in Mexico. It probably didn’t help that this one was drunk at noon and almost drove directly over a bike cop who was already pissed off, fat, and ugly. The other lesson I learned was that it’s all in how you talk to the cops. First, tell them that you aren’t going to pull over. No. No! You pull over! Then, proceed to tell them that you aren’t that drunk, and that that beer does not belong to you. In fact, you’ve never seen it before in your life. Then blame it on the güeras sitting next to you. It’s their beer, they’re drunk. And why are you cops hassling the tourists down here shopping? You see that big goddamn mirror in the backseat? Yes, they’re spending money here and now they’re never going to come back! Plus, I know the mayor!

 I was sure we were going to jail, but I just sat back and watched the show. And spank my ass and call me Sally, but it worked. The cops took off, and we headed back to the drive-through liquor store to get more beer and drive around some more. Wearing luchador masks. Ok, maybe we got hassled because it was noon, we were drunk, and also we were wearing Mexican wrestling masks. Maybe we looked suspicious. Also, our driver did NOT tell the cops that he had actually kidnapped us. He doesn’t speak much English, so he said that he “shininged” us. I am still not quite sure what that means, but kidnap me any time you want if you are going to force me to drink all day.

 

They have holes for straws!!

They have holes for straws!!

 

Me and my BFF Jen, also my favorite roommate ever—I can never top her, seriously—went down to Laredo, Texas, and Nuevo Laredo, Mexico, to drink, party, and go shopping. This is because I’m broke and need housewares, her family live down there, and because we needed a girl’s weekend. We are not the type to have girly-girl weekends, though, instead usually opting for passing-out-drunk weekends or heading to the beach, also to drink. But we are not alcoholics, I just make it sound that way because it’s more fun. No, really.

 Head to Laredo for some good food, man, we had a killer breakfast/lunch after hiking over the border. With all the border violence, now is the time to shop! We found some great deals and only got ripped off a little. I count that as making out pretty well. Another tip—go upstairs when you’re in the mercado. Those shops are cheaper, and less people go up there so you can find better stuff. And do not try to run over cops, even if they are on bicycles. They hate it.

Riverwalk- like riverdance but less Irish

What do I say about San Antonio? It’s like a much prettier El Paso, with clearer air and definitely more water. I hadn’t been to the Riverwalk since I was a kid, so it was like seeing it all for the first time again. The guy turned 30 this month, so we went down to celebrate a little and spend some time together. He’s been working too hard and I’ve been…well, I’ve been working hard too.

We wandered around, looked at the fake Alamo- did you know they rebuilt it after it was destroyed, it’s not even the real thing! I felt kind of gypped, but I’ve never been a history museum type of person. I’ll walk right by to go listen to some music or check out art, but Texas history just doesn’t do much for me. Yep, Mexicans, yep, Texas Rangers, cowboys and Indians. And what’s-his-face Davy Crockett was found hiding under a bed I heard…which is why I tend to discredit stories from history that were written by the forces left in power- which happens to be a large part of them. The grounds are beautiful, and the shady trees and landscaping hide the fact that you’re right in the middle of downtown surrounded by tons of tourists.

Nathan is pissed that it's fake too

Nathan is pissed that it's fake too

We were in town on a Dallas Cowboys training weekend, so there were lots of people lined up for hours in the hot sun hoping to catch a glimpse of the big guys. I was not one of them, but it would have been cool. I am a long-time Dallas fan, even though I’m just barely becoming a fan of the actual state of Texas. I guess I always had a thing for cowboys as a girl…Instead I watched them from our 28-th floor Marriott room.

No don't look at the ghost in the window

No don't look at the ghost in the window

We did the couple thing, wandered in circles around the waterways and watching the flatboat tours and held hands for a few minutes (too sweaty ick). I wanted to tell the tourists in the boat could walk the whole thing faster and that we’d probably beat them to the end of the tour but people don’t walk these days anyway. That’s called exercising.

No trolls under there. Only on top.

No trolls under there. Only on top.

 

Nathan's "leaning on the rail" pose

Nathan's "leaning on the rail" pose

We ate, we drank. It was good. It felt like we were traveling, and that was good enough. Economy, blah blah, staycation, blah. We’re broke, and weekend excursions are gonna have to cut it for a while. Until we buy our Airstream and hit the road like old times. I’m thinking that isn’t too far away.

I'm flying away

I'm flying away

Riverwalk at night

Riverwalk at night

TOOBING in Texas

Yes, I know it looks retarded. I would never write the word toob if it wasn’t all over the place, and plus I like it because it looks like boob. I have deduced that people in Texas can’t pronounce most things correctly- case in point, they drop the ‘e’ from Guadalupe, they say LAN-NO for Llano (yan-no). I think they just refuse to do anything in any way other than the Texan way. So, yay for toob. At least it can’t be pronounced “Tewb.”

Now being an Arizonan, at least a lot of the time, I’m used to tubing on the Salt up near Phoenix. Surrounded by desert, 100+ degrees, nice cold water and lots of drunks.

Tubing in Texas is great, because there are so many options. Even in a drought, we’ve got several rivers to pick from in an hour radius from Austin. For July 4, we tried to float the Guadalup-AY, had campground reservations in Spring Branch, Texas, the whole thing. I’d heard this part of the river is much less crowded with fewer frat boys puking in the water. We showed up with our 3 carloads of people, set up camp, only to be informed that “Oh, wait, we forgot to tell you, we aren’t running the tube tours because the river is too low.” This is DIRECTLY AFTER the guy told us that the first bus had just left with the first load of tubers. And also AFTER we had unloaded all our camp gear. What a douche. Being the resourceful people we are, we weren’t about to let that asshat get in the way of a good drunk time.

So we packed up and headed for the Comal in New Braunfels. Talk about a cluster-f. First, there are a few big tube rental places. We picked one at random, paid $10 to park, and took our big man-size cooler over to wait in line for our tubes. We paid something like $15 each, only to be told we could only have this little wussy-size cooler that might hold 8 beers with no ice. What the hell is that good for? And oh, it also cost $10 or something. SO, once again resourceful, we used the mesh trash bags that are for “Keeping our river clean” to stuff with beer, white-trash style, and tie to the tube. The river’s cold enough! We cram onto the smelly bus and get dumped off with an entire battalion of other partiers. Normally they say the Comal takes an hour at max. I think it took us 2 and a half. The Comal is pretty, and cold- but imagine one tiny little man-made loop of river winding through town with approximately 2,323 people per square foot. This led to people being scraped along the (concrete) sides of the river as the masses behind them shoved through the little chutes they built to cross the dammed areas, of which there are 3-4 before you get to the area where the bus picks up. I’m not exactly sure how many there were, but I AM sure that we lost an entire bag of beer as we were squeezed through one chute and shot out like a slippery sex-toy on the other end.

 

You can't even see any river

You can't even see any river

This is how small the 'legal' coolers are. I can maybe fit 2 hours worth of beer in there.

This is how small the 'legal' coolers are. I can maybe fit 2 hours worth of beer in there.

We dove for beer and came back with a few, which turned out to be plenty. We also hopped back on the bus and did it all again, since we were here to party. Back at the camp we got to sweat it out in the tents and listen to some real cool guys attempt to play beer pong all night.

Now, in complete contrast. This weekend, we went looking for Don’s Fish Camp, a legendary spot on the San Marcos with an old man who lets the drunks use his land as a river party spot. True to form, I was a little too fly-by-my-pants and didn’t print out directions, figuring we’d just see the place. No dice. After getting lost and yelling at Nathan for a while, we just went back into town and did the little 1.25 hour float from the Lion’s Club tube rental in San Marcos. Guess what- no stuid cooler restrictions out here!

No pictures, but imagine the same kind of river with way fewer people and a much calmer vibe. Much better.  We saw some rednecks on lawn chairs in the water, eating a box of fried chicken. Even the tattooed Mexicans floating next to us said… “Damn, that’s ghetto.” Much more my style. We did see some local cops hassling the hippies, searching through their coolers for their stash. Profiling! Asses.

Next time, we’ll definitely go to Don’s Fish Camp. 3.5 hours, no cops, and now I know where it is.

 

Oh yeah. And here’s one more picture for your viewing pleasure. She managed to hang on to that beer for half an hour somehow.

Sleepytime