The next night, Ashley and I head for dinner to the Pass & Provisions, a new dual-concept restaurant on Taft Street that boasts a seasonal menu where the familiar (pasta, pizza, seafood and meat) gives a nod to the flavors of Asia and Africa. At the time of my visit, only the casual side, Provisions, is open, with the more formal Pass expected to debut in a few weeks. My entree of harissa bucatini tossed with Gulf shrimp, guanciale and broccoli is devoid of spice and sans the promised broccoli, and has me longing for the uni-topped pizza on my neighbor’s table. But the meal’s beginning — kimchi pan au lait accompanied by a warm egg yolk afloat in kimchi spices and a wedge of perfectly runny cremant cheese — and its end — Thai iced tea soft-serve sprinkled with chocolate feuilletine (crisps), candied peanuts and dehydrated strawberries — prove most noteworthy. Provisions’ unisex bathroom, however, where Julia Child follows you into the stall thanks to piped-in audio recordings from The French Chef, may alone be worth the trip.
Post-dinner, we belly up to the bar for a cocktail at Anvil Bar & Refuge, back in the Montrose neighborhood. My soon-to-be-wed buddy is working the bar there these days, but Anvil also happens to be slinging some of the most creative cocktails in town. The menu, a list of 100 cocktails ranging from light to bitter to fruity to boozy, can be overwhelming. Skip the heavy reading and consult with the able bartenders for guidance, or throw caution to the wind and ask for “bartender’s choice.”
On the morning of our last day, Ashley and I decide to check out an offbeat tourist attraction, the Beer Can House. Completely covered in beer cans by its owner in the late 1960s, the house is an artistic oddity worth a few gawks and giggles and a decent way to fill a few hours. Then we head to Revival Market for our final bites in town. I devour Revival’s take on a banh mi, a classic Vietnamese sandwich of porchetta, pat and pickled carrot doused with fish sauce and green goddess dressing, all spilling out of a perfectly crusty-chewy baguette.
As I’m polishing off my side of pearl couscous with roasted cauliflower and sipping at my last dregs of hibiscus iced tea, I begin to plot how many jars of Revival’s house-made mustard, barbecue sauce, sorghum and vinegars, which are for sale inside, we can cram into our suitcases. And by the time I climb back into my rental car with a bag full of tasty Texas souvenirs and a homemade Oreo cookie for the road, I couldn’t care less about that fast-food eyesore in the distance.