My other favorite spot? Absolutely off the charts cool! The Eastside Showroom, a nondescript, mostly unmarked building on the East side of town that felt one part speakeasy, one part underground dinner party. At the Showroom, cocktails are art. Ice gets hand cubed by vintage-clothing draped mixologists who blend alcohols, tonics, herbs, and aromatics with precision. An air of mystery infuses the space, and small plates might be piled with shishito peppers and a bleu cheese fondue, a mold of tuna tartare, or a combination of produce from a local farm. Drinking and dining there truly transported me. The setting was magical. My cocktail of prosecco, St. Germain, and a pear eau de vie could have been a perfume, and tasted of nectar—an unforgettable elixir! Plus, the interior was the stuff of dreams. The owner apparently does all her own welding, and the dimly lit space was defined by hand-wrought metalwork offset by lighter, funky décor touches. It felt like a setting straight out of some dramatic Southern Gothic novel, and I loved the place!
I must admit, though, that when it came to the food truck scene in Austin, I was overwhelmed. I enjoyed the food trailer parks (literally multiple open lots with groupings of trucks and trailers selling tacos, cupcakes, donuts, Asian plates, barbecue and designer sandwiches), but I found myself narrowing my focus in the face of SO MUCH happening. After pining away for a bustling food “pod” here in Santa Fe and organizing our town’s inaugural Food Caravan gathering at the Railyard Park (read previous post), I came to realize that what I really love most about our little Airstream eatery is the community we’ve come to know and identify with. I might envy the wallet toting crowd most Austin food truck owners draw, but I wouldn’t sacrifice the creative whim that rules our days or replace the connections we’ve created with people of all ages and backgrounds who linger outside our snowboard lined windows.
Once upon a time, I wrote about Slurp’s inspiration—about what got us started. I mentioned the food, of course, and Carlos’s design vision, and the hopes that we’d serve a constant crowd, but I also wrote:
“Sometimes what we serve out of our little windows seems unimportant. What matters is the changing cast of characters who come and nourish us. There’s the young textile artist with the sweet grin and gentle voice, the caffeine-fueled archeology buff, the high-spirited event planning duo, and the retired law professor. There are neighbors who wander up on foot and bike from their South Capitol homes, and state employees who spend workdays inside and come out to share lunch with us. We greet dozens of camera-toting tourists eager to hear our story, and have developed friendships with dedicated retires for whom made-from-scratch soups and trailer-baked bread speak volumes.”
Times have felt mighty lean in our lot these last few months as nearby buildings empty and our newness wanes. But we still love our changing cast, and cook each day with our friends—both real and cyber—in mind. As we move into our future, one of the things we are challenged to do is to translate the community we’ve cultivated into words and images. We have the opportunity to extend our reach beyond our limited parking lot, to folks who may never actually get to eat with us, and somehow we need to hone our funkiness into a formula that draws people to us for the feeling we’ve created—sort of a recipe for the experience Slurp offers to complement the actual recipes for our soups, sandwiches, and paella. We know that in the competitive culinary world, our soups and sandwiches could be bested by a diploma-laden chef or veteran restaurateur, but we think there’s something to be said about our style… our way… our ambiance. Help us out. What would you say? We’d love to get–actually we really NEED–your input.
Developing a recipe for “Slurp-ing” feels like a tall order today—chaotic and uncertain. But I suppose the messiness, or our “we can’t quite put our fingers on it yet” task of defining our community and writing a greater recipe for how to enjoy our little feel-good haven in an off-the-beaten-path parking lot, provides us with a new inspirational platform. From the chaos comes the great chance to exercise wild creativity! Cross your fingers we can make it translate. And… heed our call for help. What would you want to read about Slurp? Let us hear.