Calling all dive bar enthusiasts! Sadly, it appears that the final last call at Austin’s beloved Dry Creek Cafe & Boat Dock is nigh. The historic and ever-rickety cash-only dive, which has peacefully sat on the backside of Austin’s Mount Bonnell since that part of town was considered the city’s outskirts, is set to shut down at the end of October. Barring a miracle, there’s a “99 percent chance” that October 31 will be the last night in business, bar manager Elly Barksdale tells Texas Monthly. “We’re surrounded by multimillion-dollar homes, and we don’t have foot traffic,” she says. “The profitability just isn’t there.”
Many who have ever called Austin home—or even just passed through—will fondly remember the little joint for its ice-cold longneck beer, sublime 45-rpm honky-tonk jukebox, and beautiful sunsets from the ramshackle rooftop deck. And for those who had the pleasure of dropping in before the turn of the last century, there was, of course, Sarah. Nobody who ever encountered Sarah Ransom, the late, great, longtime proprietor, could forget her or her admonitory “bring your damn bottles down” mantra. She notoriously possessed a short temper and an even sharper tongue (in her 2009 Austin American-Statesman obituary, her son observed, “She was like living with a bobcat or a black widow spider”).
According to Barksdale, the bar will say goodbye with a raucous celebration on October 30 and 31: “There’s a very strong sense of family and community here. We are gonna party!” There will be live music, as well as koozies and postcards for sale. In case you’re unable to make it by in person, all is not lost. Fans of the joint are advocating for it to become a historic landmark, a designation that could help preserve the building. And some kind soul has seen fit to assemble a 109-song-long Spotify playlist titled “Dry Creek Jukebox.” Pop your own top, sit back, and relive those glorious evenings of your misspent youth. And be sure to pour a little out for this soon-to-be-lost old saloon of the old school. Cheers!
—David Courtney, senior editor
Eat Vegan Fried “Chikn” at Project Pollo
Move over, Whataburger: there’s a new Texas-based fast food chain in town—and it’s entirely vegan. Since opening its first location in San Antonio a year ago, Project Pollo has quickly expanded, with locations already open in Katy and Austin, and more planned for other cities later this year. CEO and founder Lucas Bradbury is aiming for one hundred locations by 2024, with the hope that making tasty vegan versions of fast food as widely available and affordable as possible will “start shutting down Chick-fil-A’s,” as he told VegNews.
While a hard-core carnivore may not be entirely fooled by the interior texture of Project Pollo’s proprietary imitation chicken meat, the breading on the fried “chikn” is consistently crisp and well-spiced, making for a satisfying sandwich or nugget. (Project Pollo also offers burgers made with Impossible Foods patties, in case fried chicken isn’t your thing.) If you have room for a side dish, get the fried pickles—or, if you’re feeling extra indulgent, the loaded papas with fried chicken: fries smothered in both Credo cashew queso and chipotle ranch, as well as pico and grilled onions. Celebrate Project Pollo’s first anniversary this Saturday, September 18, by attending a party at its Roadmap Brewing location in San Antonio or by showing up for its grand opening of a new location in Houston’s Sharpstown neighborhood.
—Anna Walsh, managing editor
Stupefy Yourself With a Hefty Turkey Sandwich
Enjoy the height of a reuben but not the beef? There’s a sandwich for that. Otherside Deli in Austin is perhaps best known for its pastrami sandwiches, but the Rowdy Roddy, its “take on a patty melt,” goes pretty hard. Served on toasted rye, the Rowdy Roddy’s base is a heap of thickly sliced, very moist, briny turkey. Though exceptionally flavorful, the turkey still needs some zhuzhing—turkey is the saltine of meats—and the Rowdy Roddy achieves this with Russian dressing, crushed cherry peppers, and grilled onions. The sweetness of the sandwich is pleasantly incidental. Creamy, melted American cheese ties the whole bonanza together. The Rowdy Roddy’s preparation is satisfyingly consistent: the turkey-to-accoutrements-to-cheese ratio is always sublime. I know, because I order it at least once a week.
—Lauren Larson, features editor