GAZING AND GRAZING No one drives all the way up to the McDonald Observatory, on top of Mount Locke in far West Texas, just to eat. But astronomy buffs have a treat in store if they happen to wander into the StarDate Café. Not only is its menu of quesadillas, focaccia sandwiches, soups, salads, and muffins light-years beyond the mundane fare of ordinary snack bars, but its high-tech design is appropriately stellar, with stainless-steel tabletops and stained-concrete floors and walls. Five months old, the cafe is housed in the observatory’s new pueblo-style visitors center, and it takes its name from the well-known radio spots and magazine produced by the facility, which is part of the University of Texas at Austin. After you eat (perhaps a New Orleans-style muffuletta sandwich or some green apple-studded chicken salad on a bed of spinach), stroll around and enjoy the breathtaking view. And if you visit on an evening when a star party is scheduled, you can peek through a telescope. If you’re lucky, you might see the rings of Saturn—few restaurants anywhere can beat that for a nightcap.
From the August 2002 Issue Subscribe