Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Burgers and Booze at Spec's South

Tequila and Burger Run at Spec’s

Last Saturday we had to run over to Spec’s at 71 and Brodie and grab a bottle of "well" tequila for some cocktails at an upcoming dinner in HTX, and thought we’d grab one of their deli’s superlative burgers while there. In case you haven’t tried the Spec’s deli yet, they produce excellent food, using high quality ingredients, for very reasonable prices, and (and this is the clencher for me) they have TATER TOTS! Dunno about all their ATX-area locations, but the deli at 71 and Brodie is bigger than the one at Mopac and 360, and is usually less crowded.

"Reuben to Die For"

Art decided to go for their amazingly good “Reuben to Die For” at $7.99 (their moniker, not mine). 
It’s amply filled with 1/3 pound Angus corned beef, a nice nutty Swiss cheese, a really good kraut, and Russian dressing, all held between a high quality rye that’s toasted to griddled goodness on the flat top. I couldn’t resist my old standby, the Blue Cheese Bacon Burger ($5.99), a 1/3 pound Angus patty that’s fire-grilled and topped with a rich, tangy blue cheese, and a couple of slabs of thick apple wood-smoked bacon, with ripe tomatoes, red onions rings, crisp leaf lettuce, and a schmear of mayo. They have a wide selection of condiments on the table to choose from, including a natural ketchup, good yellow mustard, and several different elitist hot sauces; for me, and this freaks some folks out, nothing is better on tots or fries than yellow mustard. It’s a holdover from the elementary school days at UT’s Memorial Stadium back in the Knothole Section days, when the Longhorn football game food of choice was a corny dog and fries, slathered with mustard. Austin’s elementary school kids used to be able to buy really cheap tickets to the UT football games, so they could fill the end zones with bodies; we were seated in what they called the “Knothole Section” in the north end zone, and a small herd of us went for every home game.

Blue Cheese and Bacon Burger

The cool thing about Spec’s is that for only a dollar more, you can add tots, fries, onion rings, or curly fries to any burger or sandwich, and you get a mountain of whichever you choose. I have a preternatural love of tater tots, and order them whenever I can, which isn’t that often. Read my previous Tater Tot post here:
I also got one of their fantastic hot dogs, which is garlicky, peppery, and has a nice juicy snap with every bite; I’d say it’s at least a 4 to 1 (4 oz), although it could be a 3 to 1. It comes with your choice of condiments, on a nice fluffy bun for a measly $1.99. It’s a really good grilled dog. Another advantage of Spec’s is that you have their massive soda selection to choose from (note: we’ve heard rumors of imported Mexican Dr. Pepper, made using real cane sugar, a la Dublin DP). Another advantage is that mere steps away in the cheese section is an assortment of free fancypants cheese samples, which provide a varied, high level amuse-bouche.

...waiting for some mustard slathering.

Alteño Reposado, 100% agave, $12, a steal for the price.....

As for the tequila, we opted for the Alteño Reposado, a 100% agave tequila with assertive agave flavor and a nice finish. For $12 bucks a quart, it’s really hard to beat. Right next to it for the same price is Agavales Reposado, another great but cheap 100% agave tequila. Both are smooth enough to sip, but assertive enough to make an excellent cocktail with true agave taste; they remind me of when I used to be able to get Tesoro for a song. The Alteño will be superb in the tamarind margaritas we’ll be serving before the Indian feast. 
Burgers and booze, Spec’s is the place.

Mick Vann ©

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