Anthony Bourdain No Reservations: The End Is Near

Categories: Musings
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No Reservations, the final tour, premiered last evening. The series, which features host Anthony Bourdain eating, drinking, and behaving badly, has won both awards and a loyal fan base. In this, the first of the countdown to the end of Bourdain's Travel Channel show, we travel to Austin, Texas, for the South By Southwest festival.

Bourdain's goal? To make like a Jewish mother and feed as many hipster rockers as he can in a one-hour television show because, as he puts it, "In my experience rock 'n' roll bands don't get a good meal, so in a non-creepy way, I'm feeding as many bands as I can."

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Travel Channel
First episode... already getting ink. It's going to be a good year.
Tony takes the band Ume to Bryce Gilmore's restaurant, Barley Swine, where he learns over a dinner of goat neck, chicken fried eggs, chicken testicles, and Greek garlic rice, that these "undernourished" rockers wold much rather eat foie gras than KFC. So much for his theory.

You've got to get up pretty early in the morning if you want some barbecue in Austin. Apparently, 8:30 a.m. to be exact. Which is the time you have to start waiting on line in order to get some of Aaron Franklin's barbecue when his Franklin's Barbeque opens at 11 a.m. While Tony waits with blogger Daniel Vaughn and hundreds of others, I wonder where these people find time to wait all morning for brisket. I'm picturing a meat-obsessed office in chich part of the job description of the intern is to get on line at 8 a.m. and bring ribs to the office at precisely noon each day. So does this meat deserve giving up an entire morning for it? As Tony tells us, it's "Supernatural. Unbelievable. Only Texans and Jews understand brisket."

Ever wonder what a rock band does with a rental house in the suburbs? The answer is to turn it into a combination pig roast/bar/tattoo parlor. As Tony drinks avocado martinis and gets a tattoo, a pig and the entire contents of the Gulf coast are cooked. The band Sleigh Bells and their crew are the hosts. The avocado margarita? "Doesn't sound like a good idea. But it is."

Tony takes a break at a food truck in the parking lot of a laundromat before meeting The Sword, who swear by their music (they opened for Metallica) and their hot sauce (once banned for being too piquant, they now have FDA approval). More tacos, more barbeque, then it's time to get down with Santa at Lala.

This dive bar is all-Christmas-all-the-time and features a monthly party complete with a belligerent drunk Santa. Tony's with Alan Palomo, frontman for Neon Indian, drinking bloody Marias and chilling out before heading to Le Mexicana Bakery for a stoner breakfast of Jarritos soda, pink pastries, and pork chops.

Over some chili at Texas Chili Parlor (great name), Tony learns that musicians in Austin not only know their food, but they receive free health insurance, including optical and mental health services. "This is Texas and you're talking socialism," Tony points out to The Golden Boys. "It a social program. It's not socialism," a band member reminds Tony. Tony says that some politicians might beg to differ.

As Tony notes, "People blather on about the real America. And what does that look like? Like this. This is the real America." Stay weird, Austin.

Stay tuned for next week, when Tony swims with the sharks (and we're not talking about television network executives).

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