We travel together from time to time — for many reasons. Sometimes we’re at a vending machine convention, sometimes we’re cutting at an event with fellow butchers, and sometimes we need to taste something specific. Our trips always involve education and the kind of bonding that can only happen off-site (what happens in Vegas…). Last week a few of us went to Austin, Texas for inspiration. We ate a lot — barbecue and tacos.

Micklethwait really impressed us with its bright, fresh ingredients — the lemon poppy seed slaw, the delicate carrot whoopie pie, the brisket Frito pie! There wasn’t even a long line. Josh was able to pick the brain of the owner running the smoking cart, and the woman taking our order gave us great recommendations for local dives and food spots.

Of course we went to Franklin to partake in the barbecue mythology — what an experience. We got there at 5:30 am and the doors opened up at 11 am. We were first in line. We alternated between sleeping in our (provided) folding chairs and chatting with our neighbors in line. Aaron Franklin took Josh on a tour of the place. Gorging ourselves on pounds of barbecue after getting very little sleep was the best kind of punishment.

But our trip wasn’t all BBQ. Tacos were our salvation in between our barbecue binges. Greasy street food is a light snack in comparison. As soon as we arrived in town, we discovered a 24-hour taco joint/ paradise oasis post-plane ride. Some of our favorite tacos were simple — just perfectly cooked meat on a handmade tortilla from a food cart. But we also loved abundant, indulgent menus, like the one at Tyson’s with diablo shrimp, crispy duck, and bacon/egg/cheese tacos. Josh actually managed to book us a taco tour through Airbnb. That tour ended with a delicious smoked chicken taco at Valentina’s. The spot has a few other things to recommend it — many sides (slaw, baked beans, potato salad, corn with crema). And it’s also where we had our first queso. It’s basically a cheese dip, but it’s not really a cheese dip at all. Their version has brisket on top and is to die for.

When we weren’t eating, we shopped for food (we stocked up on 30 packs of fresh corn tortillas at the Milagro factory, which we stumbled across — $1.75 for one pack!), soaked in all of the old neon signs and dreamed up some of our own, and played dress up at vintage stores. Now that we’re back, we’re looking forward to playing around with our new skills learned down South.