Sunday, June 25, 2006

Woody's South

If you crossed home-cookin’ with a live-music bar, you’d get Woody’s. Which is evidently what Woody did. (According to Dale Rice, Austin American-Statesman Restaurant Critic.)

Location: 321 W Ben White Blvd, Austin, TX 78704 (Take the 1st street exit off 290 and head east on the access road to the South Bend Center.)
Phone: (512) 851-9663
Hours: Sunday thru Friday–11:00 am to midnight, Saturday–11:00 am to 1:00 am

The fam said they wanted to go eat somewhere. Of course, even though I’m the new guy in town and too busy to spit or look cross-eyed at a hoot owl, I’m supposed to recommend a place. A few minutes with Google gave me a short list. When I saw Woody’s has live music 7 days a week, the discussion was over.

We pulled up into a red-brick strip mall south of 290. Based on the look of the place, I expected to find an optometrist next to a CPA. But right there on the corner was Woody’s. As a bonus, across the parking lot is Shree Jee Grocery, the India/Pakistan market, where you can stock up on curry and naan.

The space used to be a Serranos location and the Mexico landscape murals are still there on the walls, even behind the stage. Gives an interesting feel, like found art. Some tables are wood finish, others have checkered vinyl tablecloths with holes in them. The menus and artwork on the maroon walls have a Dia de los Muertos thing going.

The menu, like the décor, is hard to pin down. I’d call it home cooking: chicken fried steak, catfish, meatloaf, grilled chicken, grilled sirloin. But how do you explain the shrimp flautas, Asian chicken salad, po-boy or Reuben? And the very broad selection of beers on tap? Some I'd never heard of, but we're fixing that.

That’s enough to get me inside. (Hey, they have fried okra, I’m there.) But then there’s the live music. So far I’ve heard 3 acts there: Bonnie Holms and Friends, Hayden Vitara and The Earthtone Players. All were worth listening to and as completely foreign to each other as the décor and menu items. (Bonnie’s ‘friends’ were named Stark and Black. Think of the potential. Stark Black Bonnie. Or forget Bonnie and team up as Stark and Black. Dang!) I get the impression that many of the acts play just for tips and CD sales, so cut them some slack and drop a few bills in the jar.

Woody’s South has all the makings of a hangout. If they had free wireless, I might never leave!