Southern State of Mind

journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step—unless it’s on a Greyhound bus.

It was the winter of 2012, and 34-year-old Michael Fojtasek had some time between jobs. He and his partner, Grae Nonas, 28, also a chef, badly wanted to open a restaurant in Austin, their adopted home. Fojtasek had grown up in Dallas in a family with Southern roots, and his enthusiasm had rubbed off on Nonas, who is from New England. 

A Sign of Pride

Just when we think we’ve seen every bit of clothing, every knick-knack, every tchotchke that can possibly be splashed in burnt orange and adorned with the Longhorn logo, someone comes up with an original idea to showcase some pride for the University of Texas. Case in point: the “Hook ‘em donut,” a deep-fried dough ball shaped into the famous hook ‘em hand sign before being coated with an orange, sugary glaze.

The pastry is Pisey Seng’s pride and joy. Seng—or Angel, as she prefers to be called—co-owns Donut Tacos Palace, a small bakery tucked away in a strip mall in Southwest Austin. It may not be as palatial as its name suggests, but Donut Tacos Palace has developed a bit of a cult following. Seng moved from Boston, where she worked as a nail technician after immigrating to the United States from Cambodia, to Austin, in 2006. “One day my brother-in-law says come to Texas. They do good on the donut shop,” she said in English, her second, self-taught language. Seng and husband, Marc, took the advice, moved to Austin, and bought a little shop called the Donut Palace within the year. (They later revamped the store and its menu, and re-named it Donut Tacos Palace.)

A Texas Tailgating Menu

On any given weekend between August and December, nearly every football stadium in Texas fills with fans who convert the drab concrete parking lots into a raucous watch party. Mill around and you'll see setups ranging from the simple (a few friends sitting on a tailgate with a cooler of beer while tuning in to the game on an antenna radio) to the elaborate (lounging in leather La-Z-Boys watching a rigged-up fifty-inch plasma screen).

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