By Michele Stevens Bernard, TSB Lifestyle Editor
From Gospel brunches to feeding the homeless, to coming together for a good cause, to feasting on beautiful scenery and sunsets, Austin provides ample opportunity for traveling foodies to feed the soul.
Located at 801 Red River St., one block west of I-35 on the corner of 8th and Red River, sits one of my favorite must visit foodie and concert venues in all of Texas, Stubbs BBQ.
Christopher B. “Stubb” Stubblefield opened his first restaurant in 1968 in Lubbock. Located across from the county fairgrounds, he became known for both his hickory smoked cuisine, as well as for the vintage blues music he filled the jukebox with. The Lubbock location burned to the ground in 1980 and was never rebuilt. Stubbs relocated instead to Austin. Stubbs passed away in 1995, but his restaurant remains a staple on the Austin foodie and music scene. Stubbs was posthumously inducted into the Austin Music Memorial in 2009, and a bronze memorial of him was erected in 1999, on the site of his original restaurant in Lubbock.
Among the stellar Stubbs alums known to have “played for their supper” back in the day are Joe Ely, Stevie Ray Vaughn, Muddy Waters, John Lee Hooker, Willie Nelson, Johnny Cash, Robert Cray, George Thorogood, Clarence “Gatemouth” Brown, Linda Ronstadt and the Fabulous Thunderbirds.
Today, Stubbs BBQ continues to bring live music to the table with their wonderful bbq and sauces, including their famous Sunday Morning Gospel Brunch. Here’s my tip for attending the brunch: make your reservations early in the week prior to your visit. They have two seatings, 11 a.m. and 1 p.m. While $18.95 will buy you a view of the band, $16.95 will grant you listening pleasure from elsewhere in the restaurant. I noted closed circuit televisions throughout for those sitting away from the stage. Even so, its worth an extra two bucks to sit where you can see while you eat. And don’t be surprised if you find yourself standing, clapping, and Lord have mercy, testifying while you eat.
Wesley Bray and the Disciples of Joy took me to church the day I visited for brunch. Be sure to check out the video below this article to get a little sample of what I was treated to as I enjoyed my southern-style breakfast. While I feasted on exceptional gospel music and migas, others helped themselves to buttermilk pancakes, fried catfish, and of course, brisket. And, for those who were inclined, the brunch also featured a build your own Bloody Mary buffet to boot. Regardless of what was on our plate, we were all on our feet, caught up in the joy brought to us courtesy of these talented music ministers. To learn more about Wesley Bray and the Disciples of Joy, click here. To learn more about Stubbs BBQ and to view their menu and concert calendar, click here.
As I left Stubbs BBQ with a full belly and a smile on my face, I turned onto the I-35 access road to make my way across town to the next foodie/travel related event on my agenda. I would like to think that I would’ve noticed the large gathering of people under the I-35 bridge between 7th and 8th, even if I hadn’t of just experienced a full-on Gospel music morning. Whether I would have or not, I do think the experience opened my eyes to notice other ways one can experience foodie related weekend in Austin.
According to Mission Possible Austin, more than 6,000 homeless people call the streets home. And this number is growing. Each Sunday, churches from throughout Austin come together at 10 a.m. at 7th St. and I-35 across the street from the police station to serve the ever growing population of homeless people through Church Under The Bridge. Provisions such as hot meals, blankets, clothing, sleeping bags, are provided by this group. Church Under The Bridge is followed up with Beyond The Bridge when each Tuesday, Mission Possible Austin hosts fellowship at Gandalf Prayer Cafe to allow volunteers and those they serve to build relationship and become better acquainted with one another. To learn more about this ministry, click here.
As I surveyed the people who were literally offering their helping hands, I noted the Bags of Grace trailer near the throngs gathered under the bridge. I later learned that this is a Christian ministry based on the new testament scripture Matthew 25:35-40. Their mission is to provide basic necessities to those in need in the from of easy to carry gallon sized storage bags filled with food, water and hygiene products and other basic necessities meant to ease the suffering of those living on the streets. To learn more about this ministry, click here.
As I drove away, I found myself inspired to further investigate other opportunities one might find in the name of feeding those in need in the Austin area. I didn’t need to look far, as I realized the very next event on my agenda, The 22nd Annual Austin Hot Sauce Festival, would provide me the opportunity I was looking for.
The Austin Hot Sauce Festival presented by The Austin Chronicle benefits the Capital Area Food Bank. If we know anything about Austin, we know they do love a festival. So it comes as no surprise that this particular festival which is free to public with a suggested donation of three cans of food for the food bank packs a positive wallop. In 2011, the festival brought in over 19,000 pounds of food, as well as $17,000. The generosity of those associated with this event which features an uber-cool Austin vibe on a hot August day goes a long way in helping the food bank provide the 50 million pounds of food they need to feed the 48,000 people, 20,000 of whom are children in the 21 counties they serve. While the 350 venders, live bands, hot sauce and salsa aficionados like to gather on perhaps the warmest Sunday in August to worship all that is hot, the fact that they so in the name of doing good, well, as they say in Austin, that’s very cool.
My final Austin foodie find, The Oasis, known as the Sunset Capital of Texas, provided the perfect ending to a perfect day. And with its spectacular vistas and scenery, the perfect way to feed both body and soul. Located 450 feet up on a cliff overlooking Lake Travis, this is perhaps one of my favorite ways to toast a weekend well spent in Central Texas. When it opened in the early 1980s, the restaurant held around 300 people. Today, after literally rising like a phoenix from the flames of a devastating 2005 fire, The Oasis, a top tourist destination, now easily seats more than 2,500, and is a part of a fun complex of shops and eateries known as Oasis, Texas. Featuring Tex-Mex cuisine, margaritas sure to quench your thirst and sunsets worthy of the standing ovations they receive, if you haven’t done it yet, put this on your Things To Do In Austin at least once.
Here’s my tip for your Oasis experience: give yourself plenty of time to get there as the road between downtown and Lake Travis is curvy and sometimes slow due to traffic. They don’t take reservations, however, for parties of four or more, go ahead and give them a ring to be put on their “Call Ahead List” for quicker seating once you arrive.
So that’s it foodie fans for this installment of TSB Explores: Austin. One of the best things about living in McKinney is the ability to easily slip away to other parts of the Lone Star state for a quick weekend break. But the absolute best part of living in here is getting to share your adventures on TownSquareBuzz.com when you return after a whirlwind Austin weekender.
Do you have a foodie or travel adventure to share? Feel free to post your experiences right here on TownSquareBuzz.com.
Editor’s Note: This was Michele’s final installment of the Austin Foodie Finds series. If you missed TSB’s Austin Foodie Finds, Part One, Where There’s Smoke, There’s Franklin BBQ, click here. If you missed Part Two, Food, Trucks, Mobile Vendors and Backdoor Bars, click here.