At the Red Rock Casino here in Las Vegas we used to have a branch of The Salt Lick, a famous Texas rib joint, but it closed a couple of years ago, to my intense chagrin. To my intense delight, Hilmar took me to the original Salt Lick which, as it happens, is located out in the countryside not too far from Austin.

It’s a vast place, with indoor and outdoor seating on picnic tables, and was jammed with Texans, including many families, the Saturday afternoon we visited. There was a bit of a wait but we improved the time by sampling a couple of local beers which they had on tap. One was a dark beer flavored with jalapeños, the other was a lighter brew flavored with pecans. I could have sat out there all day alternating between the two, but there was meat to be eaten — we got combo plates of brisket, sausages and ribs. Mighty tasty. Hilmar gave me The Salt Lick Cookbook as a souvenir:


That night we wandered around Austin again, looking for fun — ran across a concert by Prince at the Zona Rosa which required some sort of pass more exclusive than our SXSW badges, so we moved on to Lambert’s to see what was happening at its upstairs bar, a music venue.

We lucked into a great line-up of country bands, the pearl of which was Rosie Flores, the legendary rockabilly spitfire, now 63 but still smoking:

Rosie is sort of like a Latina Wanda Jackson — she has in fact toured with Jackson — and she is something else in concert. We left soon after her set, feeling that nothing could top it. Walking over to The Halcyon, a cool café-bar, we ran into Rosie and a friend of hers at a street corner. We hurried over to her and shook her hand and told her she’d kicked ass at Lambert’s, which seemed to please her a great deal. Up close she was tiny and birdlike.

At The Halcyon we hired a pedicab to take us back to Lustre Pearl. Austin swarms with pedicabs, especially during SXSW, when entrepreneurs from other places in Texas arrive in town to pilot the things alongside the native drivers. Austin also swarms with cute girls during SXSW, and sometimes the cute girls are pedicab drivers, like the one we hired — Deanna Rae:

Deanna Rae is a local, who also makes and sells candy. Like most pedicab drivers she had an mp3 player hooked up to a small boombox strapped to her pedicab. She looked us over carefully and then selected a playlist she thought we might like — mostly alt-country numbers, in honor, I guess, of my cowboy hat.

At one point she slammed on her brakes, shouted, “Money!” and jumped off the pedicab to retrieve a five-dollar bill in the street. Two other pedicab drivers had also spotted it and jumped off their vehicles to race towards it, but Deanna Rae got there first.

“We’re always finding money in the street,” she said happily.

Deanna Rae

Above is a picture of Deanna Rae from her Facebook page, on which she describes herself as “awesome”. Word.

Click on the images to enlarge.