EAT A HEARTY LUNCH
The Slow Bone
“I’ve never Slow Boned before,” my friend texted. Our lunch spot was decided. A crew from Austin’s Franklin Barbecue, in for the annual Meat Fight fundraiser, was crowded around a table strewn with empty trays as my friend and I made quick work of brisket, hush puppies, cold pea salad, and collard greens. The restaurant was out of Shiner, but Lazy Magnolia Brewing Company’s Southern Pecan was a perfect replacement. In fact, I liked it better.
TAKE A TOUR
Community Beer Company
From the outside, the brewery looks like it used to be a CompUSA. On the inside, it’s a cavernous space to gather. On Saturdays, the taproom opens at 2 pm for the tours; 5 pm for those who just want to hang out and drink some brews. Here’s the best way to do this: buy tickets online in advance. It is five bucks cheaper. For those deeply interested in what goes on inside those big, shiny silver vessels, arrive a little before 3 pm. That’s when the first tour actually takes place. My friend and I had time to use one of our three beer tokens (which makes the $10 for an advance ticket a steal) and check out the scene before following Eric, one of the brewers, through the door marked “employees only.” We left only when it became clear that the woman next to me—who was asking questions like “Are you guys ever going to make liquor?” and the burning follow-up “But, like, do you find this fulfilling?”—was never going to stop. Back out in the bustling taproom, there was a guy defiantly sporting a Peticolas Brewing scarf, a group of friends embroiled in a tense game of giant Jenga, and a musician who covered everything from Simon & Garfunkel to Ginuwine. There’s cornhole, a pool table, and a couple of arcade games for those who feel like playing; picnic tables for those who feel like sitting and chatting. Chewbacca walked in at one point, followed by two very tall people dressed like they just stepped out of Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland. Families and dogs are welcome, too. I bought a drawing of Big Tex with a flame coming out of his thumb from an artist named Jack Daws and called it an afternoon well spent.
Not everything in here is a gem. But the amusement factor is its saving grace—and reason enough to stop by after a couple of hours at a brewery. Highlights included a vintage Starck Club promotional poster, shelves of cowboy boots in fine condition, a surprisingly large collection of Doris Day albums, and a “genuine historic artifact salvaged from the renovation of the Willard Hotel in Washington, D.C., where the term ‘lobbyist’ was coined.”
GRAB A PICK-ME-UP
I parked on Hi Line, and we walked over for cortados and water. Ascension was pleasantly populated, with the lights lowered for evening, making it a nice change of pace from the action of the brewery. Relax. Caffeinate. And if your perfect day involves getting an earlier start than I did, you might consider swapping in Ascension for breakfast. On warmer mornings, go for a giant cold brew. Otherwise, early birds should spring for a pour-over coffee and a flaky croissant.
SIP A COCKTAIL
We arrived around 6:15 pm to beat the dinner rush and went in through the back entrance, winding our way through the gleaming dining room and snagging seats at the end of the bar. The restaurant’s full menu is available there, no reservations or advance planning required. Scott, our friendly bartender, was precise without being fussy. I ordered a bourbon-based apple cocktail, while my friend had one of the barrel-aged offerings. Mine came garnished with pristine slices of white fruit. We decided a little more food was in order and shared the vegetable composition and the ricotta gnocchi. Both were fantastic, but the long wooden board full of vegetables, served every which way, turned out to be the dish I hadn’t known I had always wanted. Such is the nature of this place that when I took a sip of water and found it startlingly sweet, I didn’t say anything at first. I finally asked Scott why my water tasted like sugar. Was it a fancy restaurant thing? The other bartender, Tristan, heard me, and laughed. He had whipped up a simple syrup in the water pitcher, then forgotten to rinse it out. “Oh, thank goodness,” a woman next to me said. “I thought it was on purpose, and I didn’t want to say anything!” Hint: a perfect day could, and maybe should, end at FT33 with another cocktail.
GET SOME CULTURE
An art gallery
On a given Saturday, any number of galleries will have an opening reception for a new exhibition. Keep an eye on the websites for galleries such as Conduit, Craighead Green, and Holly Johnson, among others. These receptions are usually between 5 and 8 pm, so it is possible to take in some art before or after making your way to the bar at FT33.
Call ahead with the number in your party to get on the list for one of the 12 retro lanes. On a Saturday evening, the place was packed, but I never had trouble getting a drink. Once I got the hang of hurling my 10-pound ball, the crash of pins was satisfying, even therapeutic. By the time I left, driving away into the misty dark, toward the lights of downtown, it was something very close to perfect.