On The Road
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.