Chow, Baby used to get bummed out at the prospect of eating alone. “Table for one?” the hostess would ask, and Chow, Baby would nod and give a deep sigh. These days I usually enjoy dining solo, but there are still a few restaurants where the going is rough. The romantic ones in particular make me long for a Xanax appetizer.
Here’s a tip for all you table-for-ones: food parks. You can hop from one vendor to the other, stuffing your face at each one, and feel nary a spark of shame. Take the Clearfork Food Park (1541 Merrimac Circle) for instance. It’s a great setting for people-watching or just staring off into the middle distance with a look of deep contemplation. It also has great food.
On a recent visit, the sun was out, a band was playing, and the place was teeming with food hoppers. I’d heard that the Eat Jo Dawgs truck specialized in the kind of food that turns your blood into cholesterol-laden sludge, and I wasn’t disappointed. The “natural disaster” dog ($7.74) is a deep-fried, bacon-wrapped wiener with a jalapeño relish, onion rings (on the hot dog), coleslaw, and tomatoes –– not the kind of food you eat with your pinky out. It’s a delicious, bare-knuckle slog through a buffet in a bun. The most decadent treat on the indulgent menu was the Monte Cristo dawg ($7.74), deep-fried with ham and Swiss cheese and topped with a raspberry horseradish sauce. It’s like the last thing you reach for right before your loved ones stage an intervention.
The next stop on my Clearfork culinary solo safari was Ketzler’s Schnitzel Shack. I’m a sucker for breaded meats and menu items that, when pronounced correctly, sound as though you’re clearing your throat.
The jaeger schnitzel ($7.50), a battered-and-fried thin pork cutlet served on a kaiser roll with sauerkraut, was tender and succulent. The ’kraut was über tangy and fresh, and the roll was warm and soft. The accompanying potato salad also had a nice zing.
It was time to test the heartwarming theory that “there’s always room for ice cream.” For my final stop, I rolled my bloated body over to Gypsy Scoops Ice Cream.
Although I was tempted by the ice cream sandwich ($4.50) –– a giant chocolate-sprinkled donut, split, with ice cream in the middle –– I knew I couldn’t handle that on an empty stomach, let alone a belly full of schnitzel and sloppy dawgs. That’s not to say that the salted caramel ice cream cone ($3.50) I chose instead was a light digestif. But it was everything you want from ice cream: creamy and not too sweet, and it left me wanting just one more taste.
The hustle and bustle of Clearfork Food Park was a much better choice than trying to read in some dim dining room corner. Call me a half-Greta: Like Garbo, I vant to be alone –– but with people around.
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