If You’re Ever In Texas…


Pardon my spotty postings as of late. I just spent the past week back home in Austin, celebrating and eating and visiting with friends and family. It was my dad’s big 70th birthday party, and it could not have been more fun. I’m still playing catch up with life’s daily duties, but I wanted to jot down a few things I’m just so thankful for:


1. My Friends

Who else has friends who throw a cocktail party in your honor when you visit? A delightful evening, hosted by my friends Bobby and Steve, brought my old gang together for one night only, and what a night it was. And Bobby, if you’re reading, your spread could rival anyone’s, hands down!  If you’re in Austin, make sure you stop by and say hello to Bobby at the San Jose Hotel and Steve at their most amazing shop Mercury Design Studio.


2. My Family

It’s rare that we’re all in the same place at the same time, but celebrating my father’s 70th Birthday brought us all together. It’s even rarer to hear someone say how much they love their siblings, nieces, nephews, and the whole gang.  but that’s me. My best friends ever.


3. Barbacoa Tacos from Arandas Taqueria

My days always begin the same way in Austin: tacos de barbacoa. I’ve mentioned these before and always seem to get the same reaction (yes, it is the meat from a cow’s head), but until you’ve tasted how marvelous and perfect barbacoa tacos are you just cannot comprehend it.. Tender, seasoned beef with just the right amount of fat is topped with diced onions and cilantro and wrapped in a warm fresh flour tortilla. They can be found all over town, but my personal favorites come from Taqueria Arandas. Arandas can be found all over Austin, but a word of warning: if you go on a Sunday morning for your traditional barbacoa tacos be prepared to wait. These folks know a good thing when they taste one.


4. Jo’s Burger

My friend Bobby told me I couldn’t visit  without a stop at the new Jo’s in downtown. Jo’s coffeeshop has been around for years serving coffee and fried pies but recently expanded their menu when they opened  a restaurant in the new hip shopping area of 2nd street. Like many places in Austin, a great deal of attention is paid to food and where it comes from (this is the green  town that gave birth to Whole Foods, after all), and I gotta hand it to Bobby–he was right. While nothing out of the ordinary, my Jo’s burger was sublime. The housemade potato chips rocked my world, and had I not had a food agenda I probably would have returned again. And again. And again.

5. P & K Grocery

I’m a big fan of small, neighborhood markets, and P & K Grocery is one of the best. Located in South Austin, this small shop not only offers amazing sandwiches and great coffee but groceries, amazing gifts, design books and assorted nice little pretty things that you don’t need but really really want. It’s very Austin, very unique, very hip – and full of friendly service.


6. Brisket

You wanna know what happiness is? It’s a piece of slow cooked tender brisket, prepared with love by your cousin who clearly knows what he’s doing. Devoured Texas-style with sliced onions and white bread. The only way.


7. Iron Works Beef Ribs

Let’s not get into a fight here, people. We can agree to disagree. But Iron Works is one of my personal favorites when I want barbeque in Austin. Yes, there are tons of great bbq joints all over the place, but I never miss an opportunity to eat there.

8. Whataburger.

What more can I say?


9. Big Red.

The only time I’ll ever drink soda is when I’m in Texas, and it must be Big Red. I wish I could say what flavor it is, but honestly I have no idea. It’s a disgustingly sweet red drink that smells like bubble gum and tastes like no other. Thank god I only visit a few times a year.

10. Ben & Helen Armendariz

My parents, who always show me what true love is all about and how being kind and loving to another human being always makes the world a better place.


Happy birthday, dad!


  1. says

    You look like you’re at church, holding that big ‘ol hunk of meat with such reverence!

    I’ll be in Austin in June…and I’m praying you’ll come along as my culinary guide…

  2. Helen & Ben says

    Thanks Son, what a wonderful way to say Happy Birthday. And Thank you Adam for being Adam and letting us borrow Matt for a few days.

  3. Helen & Ben says

    Thanks Son, what a wonderful way to say Happy Birthday. And Thank you Adam for being Adam and letting us borrow Matt for a few days.

  4. Banana Chocolate Chips says

    Happy Birthday Ben and many many more to come. Great birthday! Helen and Ben you have fabulous family and marvelous son!

  5. says

    I really like your family. I really like mine, too, which is lucky, otherwise I´d be insanely jealous. My cousins don´t cook, so ok, I am quite jealous.

  6. says

    Happy birthday, dad, and may I congratulate you on your funny, talnted, great son!

    Thanks for a great post. Nothing like making a list of things you’re grateful for to make you feel good all day!

  7. says

    Why must I always read your blog when I’m hungry at work and stuck with a crappy PB sammich or something equally lame? Gah! Now I’m starving!

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