Every once in a while, when Red Meat is on tour, we get hungry. When we do, we try to sample some of the native cuisines of the area we find ourselves in. If we find a particularly good spot, we'll write it up and put it on the Meat Eats page. Here y'are. Bon Appetit.

Canteen Lunch in Alley, Ottumwa, Iowa (you don't need an address--it's Ottumwa, fer chrissakes!)

The Canteen was opened in 1936, and little has changed since then, including the staff. The restaurant is a single room brick building, and seating consists of twelve stools around the horseshoe-shaped counter. An ancient picture of FDR adorns one wall, and a JFK portrait was put up in about 1979 (the Canteen doesn't like to rush into anything). This little restaurant serves just a few items--loose meat hamburgers, hot dogs, pies and malts. That's it. If you want a big selection, go to the mall. What is a loose meat hamburger? It's a sandwich unique to Iowa, in the same delicious category as the Pork T. It's like a sloppy joe, without the beans and red mystery sauce. Here is the recipe: take a mess of medium grade ground beef. Fry it up loose (don't make a patty), and liberally salt and pepper the cooking meat. Once the meat has cooked through, scoop it onto a hamburger bun, and dress the mess with mustard, ketchup, pickles and onions. Warsh it down with a Coke or a chocolate malt, served in one of those conical-shaped disposable paper cups that fits into a silver metal holder. The Canteen is the last of a dying breed--a family-owned hamburger shop. If you are in southeast Iowa, the Canteen is worth a stop. - Jill Olson

The Chuck Wagon, Main St. between 7th and 8th, Keokuk, Iowa

The Chuck Wagon opened its doors in 1934, and if this restaurant's knotty pine wood walls could talk, all you would hear would be 67 year's worth of "mmm!". This family diner really took me back in time, to a place where once again I received a friendly smile with my fried pork tenderloin sandwich. Pork T's are a specialty of Iowa, and I was chomping at the bit to try one in Scott and Smelley's home town. Once I walked past the vintage western facade of the Chuck Wagon, I knew I had to go in and soak up both the grease and the ambiance. The Chuck Wagon is decorated in a cowboy theme, with walls and booths fashioned from an aged knotty pine that would make Little Joe and Hoss feel right at home. The four of us (Owen, Max, Michael and yours truly) slid into a booth and immediately ordered pork T's all around. The sandwiches did not disappoint us. The tenderloins--breaded, fried, and served on white hamburger buns--were huge, sticking far beyond the boundary of the bread. Once we had devoured the pork sandwiches, we ordered homemade cherry pie from our pleasant college-aged waitress, who I think thought Max was cute (get in line, lady). This pie was the star of the show--the crust was flaky (not thick and bread-like)and the filling had just the right balance of tartness versus sweetness. Whomever created this masterwork seemed to be channeling my late Grandma Ruby Harter, a former professional pie maker who made the best crust in the tri-state area. This Iowa-style pie was truly unlike California pie, which can be too fancily-spiced and organic tasting. I LOVE PIE. IOWA PIE! If you are ever in southeast Iowa, hit the Chuck Wagon--it's a retro diner that is REALLY vintage, not just a recreation. The service is great and the food is freshly fried. What more can I write? - Jill Olson


Chuy's, Main St., Van Horn, TX (ya can't miss it — Intersection of I-90, I-54, and I-10)

Remember when you could get SUPER CHEAP but REALLY GOOD Mexican food (and I ain't talkin' Taco Bell, baby)? You still can at Chuy's in the west Texas town of Van Horn. Sports broadcaster John Madden loves Chuy's (his name is all over the place), so do I really need to go into detail for ya? Chuy's is a sit down restaurant where you can get a delicious, fresh taco for a dollar. A DOLLAR. The ice tea comes in a quart glass. The fajtas are fresh and about three bucks. There is a cute antique store next door. If you are driving from Las Cruces to Austin and you miss Chuy's, well, then, I don't wanna hear about it. Nope--just be quiet! - Jill Olson

The Great Grill, 1525 N. Verdugo Road, Glendale, CA

When I was a sullen young teen, my mom did a few stints living in Los Angeles. Being a sullen young teen, I accompanied her. I liked L.A. — there were plenty of things to do all the time, it was warm, there was interesting stuff to look at. There was the one time that I walked by Casablanca Records with the Kiss "Destroyer" lp under my arm and got invited in....but that's another story.

One of my fondest memories of Los Angeles is the abundance of fast-food stands. Not Taco Bell, or McDonald's, but little dinky cinder block huts where you ordered while you stood outside at a window, and more than likely ate outside at a table. Food selection always ran the gamut from burgers to Mexican to Middle Eastern, all under one roof. My favorite one of these was just outside of Griffith Park, and it was called Zup's by the Zoo. When Red Meat started recording "13" in Glendale, I was excited to pick up some lunches at Zup's for the guys. Then both Dave Alvin and Mark Linett told me it had closed years earlier. After a moment of reflective silence, Mark suggested the Great Grill as an alternate.

Now, Zup's had set my standards pretty high, so I approached the Great Grill with a certain amount of trepidation. Once inside, clutching a band food order in my hand, any anxiety was washed away as if I was bathing in the healing waters at Lourdes. I had found my Zup's replacement, and I was at peace. And we had discovered the "Official Red Meat Dining Establishment While Recording". Literally every day during the recording of "13" and "Alameda County Line", someone (usually me) would make a food run to the Great Grill. The Great Grill specializes in burgers and fries, of course, but you can also get delicious hot dogs, freshly-made burritos, tasty falafels, curry chicken sandwiches on pita bread, it just goes on and on... The menu sprawls like L.A. itself above the counter; it seems to be at least 40 square feet of backlit plastic. Max is partial to a carne asada burrito (no sour cream); and the Great Grill handled it with aplomb. Nothing fancy; just grilled steak, cheese, beans, and salsa in a large flour tortilla. Tasty, quick, and good. Smelley took to sampling the many varieties of Great Grill dog: chili dog, corndog, regular dogs...Smelley is a hot dog afficionado, and he gave high marks to all the Great Grill's sausage efforts. I usually played it safe and had a burger, fries, and a chocolate shake, which were in the finest American burger stand tradition: hot, juicy burger piled high with lettuce, tomato, and onions; crinkle-cut fries, crisp on the outside and light in the center; and a shake of perfect taste and consistency. Not too thick, not too thin. I also, in a weird fit of dietary awareness, once had a Great Grill DOUBLE turkey burger, which ruled. Jill Olson was partial to the chili cheese fries, and the entire band gave thumbs up to the onion rings. The curry chicken on a pita was a nice main course for Michael's lite lunch on a hot Glendale afternoon. And Dave Alvin was partial to the Great Grill's hot dog, only he ordered it plain: just sausage on a bun. I attribute this to his Polish heritage; I hear they make a pretty good sausage there. Like me, Scott and Les both devoured the burgers with relish (yes, that is a semiclever pun).

I understand there are a few Great Grills in the Burbank/Glendale area. If they are anything like this one, they get an official Red Meat endorsement. And if you're ever driving up Verdugo on one of those broiling hot L.A. afternoons, and you need to pause for refreshment, look no further. Park your convertible, push open those glass doors, walk up to the counter and tell 'em Red Meat sent ya. — Owen Bly

UPDATE: We once again frequented the Great Grill when we were down in Glendale recording "We Never Close". I discovered they had an incredibly good chicken kabob sandwich. Very satisfying! BUT...I talked to Mark Linett on the phone the other day, and he informed me that the Great Grill had shackled its doors. Perhaps a new owner will take over? Stay tuned.


Santa Juanita's, 5607 S. Congress, Austin, TX

When we were on tour in Austin for SXSW a couple of years ago, Les, Scott, and I had the pleasure of laying up at the home of Brad and Norma's (world renowned accordionist Bradley J. Williams of Los Pinkys, Gulf Coast Playboys, Movie Stars and many others who have been graced with his fine sounds).

Well we were all hanging out on St. Patrick's Day morning and we didn't have to play until midnight so we figured we could eat as heavy as we wanted for there was ample time to digest before gig time. Upon askingBrad and Norma what they would suggest, they said it depends on what you want. Brad said, 'How about tacos?' and Norma immediately said, 'Santa Juanitas!' And after listening to the way they both went 'mmmm..' we decided to cease all discussion and go for it.

Brad made the call and in 20 min. we were in the truck headed out South Congress, way out South Congress and as the city began to thin out I realized that we were coming to the outskirts. Now everybody knows when looking for good homestyle Mexican food or any food for that matter, you always look for the small out-of-the-way place. And as we pulled into the gravel parking lot full of chuck-holes we spied the small square white building next to the tier yard.

On going through the screen door you enter a pick-up area about the size of a Motel 6 room with a counter on one side with a 1962 vintage Coca-Cola menu sign hung above it. The room is furnished with a couple of kitchen tables and chairs for those who can't wait until they get home. There are windows on the front and side of the room but the only light that gets in is from the front as the side window is blocked by stacks of tires. The morning we were there getting our take-out, there were these two mariachis, both well past retirement age totally tricked out in full regalia, big bow ties and everything, kickin out a hot version of Lito Lindo, standin in the corner. I gave them a tip, talk about a tough gig.

In the time it took to play a verse and a chorus, Brad paid a very small price for a small sack. Now alot of folks when they think of tacos, they think something about the size of a Taco Bell taco or the even bigger Jack in the Box taco but these were very different. 15 tacos fit in a small bag. When I took it from Brad it was amazingly heavy for such a small bag.

When we got home and unwrapped the foil, we got a little taste of south of the border heaven, the tortilla was fresh and the fajitas had been marinated with peppers and onions and chilis for a good long time. You could tell cause all of tastes had become wedded till you couldn't tell one from another. The tortilla was spread with the thinnest layer of refried, just like Smelley likes 'em, long and hard with lots of love and lard. Each taco had the most delightful red grease that dripped out of the end. I pride myself as a man who can put away alot of grub in a sitting and after eating four of these bad dogs I was in a food coma afternoon nap for the next three and a half hours.

Smelley sez if ya find yourself in Austin and ya want real Mexican tacos and not some bullshit American taco call Santa Juanitas 443-9308

Smelley sez two thumbs up. - Smelley D. Kelley

Robert's Western Wear, 416 Broadway, Nashville, TN (615)244-9552

A while back, Red Meat played one solid four hour set at Robert's. Located in the heart of Nashville's Lower Broadway district, it seemed the perfect locale for us. We didn't make a ton of money or anything, but it's impossible not to have a good time playing country music in these surroundings.

First off, if you've never been to Robert's, it's a Budweiser 'n burger joint. Oh yeah, they also have some western wear, ostensibly for sale. The wall on the stage left side has a couple of shelves lined with dusty cowboy boots. I think if anyone actually attempted to buy these boots, the staff would die of shock. Your real purpose here at Robert's is to drink a bunch of Buds and fire a cheeseburger 'n fries down your neck.

I'm gonna make this review simple: the cheeseburgers are really good, and the Budweiser is cold. The music is live and non-stop. Robert's has great old booths and a discerning clientele that really appreciates REAL country music. While we were playing, two staff members almost got into a fistfight over something, I'm sure long since forgotten between the two of them. I hope you get the picture: this ain't a swanky, fakey, hot new country bar. It's the real deal: a beer and country music joint. Ya gotta go. And when you do, be sure to tip the performers; it's how they get paid.

A last story about Robert's: After we finished our set, a few of us went down the street to visit our friends at Hatch Show Print (an incredible print shop that does all of Red Meat's posters). A Hatch employee walked by Les and said "You must've just played Robert's." Les responded, "Yeah! How did you know?" And the guy answered: "You smell like a cheeseburger."

Maybe, but it was a delicious cheeseburger...and a hell of a time. — Owen Bly

Nellie's Cafe, 1226 W. Hadley Ave., Las Cruces, NM

Well, gang, it's time to let the cat out of the bag. Red Meat has eaten the best Mexican food in America, and it's served at Nellie's Cafe in Las Cruces. Now Max, our esteemed former pedal steel player, grew up in Las Cruces, and we have him to thank for our Nellie's experiences.

Nellie's Cafe is a small adobe structure, painted white many years ago. They serve all the usual Mexican dishes, but the most incredible thing on the menu is the dish they call banados (that's ban-YAH-dohs, my gringo brothers and sisters). As far as I can tell, they're an invention of Nellie herself. It's essentially a wet burrito, large and covered in cheese and the most incredible green sauce that has ever crossed your lips. On our last visit, when Les, Max, Smelley and I were driving the equipment back from our fall 2001 tour, I had two chile relleno banados (known on the menu as a "double barrel"). These came to me on a large plate with a side of beans and rice. Stuffed with chile relleno and perfectly marinated chunks of pork, these beauties filled me for the next 24 hours.

And a note on both the green sauce and the chile rellenos: New Mexico has this variety of chile that you can get only in the Land of Enchantment. They have a burn that's slow to build, then it's mellow and intense at the same time. It's very difficult to explain, but there you have it. It's absolute heaven.

Smelley had himself not two, but THREE banados, his were meat and bean only as he's not a chile relleno fan. Les had red enchiladas that he gave an enthusiastic thumbs up to.

But if I were you, and I was driving down Interstate 10 anywhere near Las Cruces, I'd forgo the usual fast foods and do what Red Meat always does: take 45 minutes out of your day to feast on Nellie's fine creations. Get a chile relleno banado, a big coke (you'll need it), and settle in for a real treat. If you double barrel it, prepare to roll out of there stuffed. All for less than ten bucks a person.

There's also a restaurant in Las Cruces called Little Nellie's, started by Nellie's son, that serves largely the same menu. It too is very good, but it's impossible to top the original Nellie's.

Call ahead at (505) 524-9982, they do have unusual hours.

Leo's Lunchroom, 1809 W. Division, Chicago, IL

On a recent tour, our first show was at the Hideout, a marvelous little working-class club near Chicago's Bucktown neighborhood. We got there early due to a surprising lack of traffic, loaded in our equipment and luggage, and asked Omar the bartender (a terrific human being by the way, just like all the staff at the Hideout) where a good place to get dinner was. He answered without delay: Leo's Lunchroom.

Omar is a smart man. Leo's is a great little joint, borderline divey, with about 5 tables and a long lunch counter against one wall. The waitperson was very polite and funny, accommodating the foibles of seven people trying to decide what to eat simultaneously. Montalto and I both had the chicken salad sandwich, a couple of us had pastrami, Les had a reuben. Scott had a bowl of chili which looked great, and he proclaimed his pastrami to be the best he ever had eaten. The bread on the sandwiches was thick and crusty and delicious. The chicken salad was perfect -- big chunks of chicken, perfectly accented. The sodas were in big glasses and were cold, cold, cold! The only thing missing was Jill, who was eating dinner with her sister and was sorely missed.

Leo's Lunchroom in Chicago — check it out. — Owen Bly

Sam's BBQ, 2000 E. 12th Street, Austin, TX

When Red Meat hits Austin for a show or three, or five, we always look for culinary treats along the lines of Mexican food (we're Mexcian food junkies), or barbecue. On the Austin barbecue front, the band is split into two schools of thought: The Sam's school and the Salt Lick school. So I figured it'd be helpful, if not just plain entertaining, to review both of these fine establishments.

Sam's is set up in a small, shack-like setting with a small sign outside; the kind of place that when you see it from the outside, you think: excellent food. You know what I mean? And it doesn't disappoint. Sadly, we didn't have enough time on our fall 2001 tour to hit Sam's. But when we do, I'm always sure to get the links and some ribs. The sauce is amazing: tomato based and spicy. The meat is top notch. And there's usually an unusual cast of characters hanging out and passing the day. Last time we were there, it was an old guy with 4 empty Busch tall boys in front of him, wearing sunglasses inside and identifying himself as Pretty Boy Floyd. Sam's is also open late, late, late (until 4 am on Friday and Saturday nights), which makes it perfect for post-gig scarfing.

Go. Eat. — Owen Bly

Salt Lick BBQ, 18300 FM 1826, Dripping Springs, TX

Now, the Salt Lick is a very special place. It's located about a half hour outside of Austin, in the middle of the country. And it's definitely worth the drive.

It's basically set up in a ranch style building with a large dining room filled with picnic tables. Go with friends and sample all their meats -- your order will come to you family style, on a large platter with plenty of their delicious sauce. The Salt Lick sauce is unlike any other bbq sauce I've ever had -- it's not tomato based, not really very hot, and it's really tangy. Bradley J. Williams claims that their secret ingredient is anchovies. Maybe, maybe not, but it's a totally unique and totally incredible sauce, that's for dang sure. Especially recommended is the brisket and the smoked turkey breast. Smelley likes this stuff so much that if you have Thanksgiving at his house, he mail orders brisket and jalapeno turkey breast from the Salt Lick. Great stuff.

I understand they sometimes have live music out at the Salt Lick also; there wasn't any when we visited, but it'd make for a hell of an afternoon.

Also, they don't sell beer, you bring your own. Take a cooler full and you'll fit right in!

Canter's Deli, 419 N. Fairfax, Los Angeles, CA

Wow. Canter's has been open for over 70 years, and in this location for over 50. It's pretty much an L.A. institution -- I mean, my god, STARS eat here! ELVIS used to eat here! CARY freakin' GRANT!! MARILYN freakin' MONROE!!

So we usually send a Red Meat contigent over to Canter's at least once on our multiday Southern California trips. The decor at Canter's is a bit drab, but the food is excellent old-school Jewish delicatessan. Before the meal, you get these awesome pickles that have alot of bite to 'em. Try the matzoh ball soup -- it's a flavorful chicken based broth with a single matzoh ball in it, which is the size of a softball. It's Jill's favorite. The Great Montalto and Owen go for reubens, which are absolutely perfect. They give you extra dressing on the side, so you have the option of making a pig out of yourself. Always a good option. And the overall ambience is stuck in the 1950's, without the slightest hint of kitschy retro-ness. And, dammit, every table has a phone for Hollywood deal-making. (UPDATE: They've removed the phones. DAMMIT. How am I supposed to talk to Scorsese while eating corned beef? A cell phone? PLEASE.)

Many multiple thumbs up. — Owen Bly

Johnnies Pastrami, 4017 Sepulveda Blvd., Culver City, CA (310) 397-6654

Even though you're not a pastrami kind of guy, you've gotta experience Johnnie's. It's a little stand from the 40's that sells, you got it, pastrami. And it's excellent. In fact, it's perfect. Lean, spiced just right, and lots of it. Honest, folks, it's piled, like, six inches high on your sandwich. Johnnie's also features an excellent chili cheese dog, favored by Mr. Smelley Kelley. And it's open late. An excellent post-gig food fix. We'll see ya there after a show.

Taqueria Pancho Villa, 3071 16th Street (near Valencia, in the heart of San Francisco's Mission District), San Francisco, CA

As a habit, the Red Meat restaurant reviews cover places we've eaten at while on the road, but sometimes it's just nice to do a good old hometown feature.

When I was last in New York, I came across a place advertising "San Francisco style burritos". I was intrigued, and ultimately disappointed with the result. Because, as it seems the rest of the country is becoming aware, San Francisco has the best taquerias in the United States of America. And in my opinion, the best taqueria in San Francisco is Pancho Villa's.

Now, we'll probably receive emails from all kinds of San Franciscans detailing how THEIR favorite place is the best, but I'm sticking to my guns here. Pancho Villa is so good, I even had them cater my wedding. If you're coming from out of town to visit the City (yes, we self-indulgently refer to SF as "the City"; isn't that a hoot?), I urge you to hit the Mission District for a fun afternoon of shopping, drinking, walking around, whatever, and a big lunch, preferably a burrito, at Pancho Villa's. They grill up carne asada, chicken, prawns, everything on an open fire right there in front of you. Then they pile a ton of whatever you've ordered on a tortilla with fresh everything.

If you've ordered a "super", it's Meat, rice, beans, cheese, sour cream, guacamole, lettuce, tomato, and salsa. They also have smaller ones for the more delicate appetite. And all kinds of vegetarian selections, including tofu, if you swing that way.

And it's not just burritos, there are all kinds of Mexican selections you can choose from. Tacos, quesadillas, nachos, a choice of 3 kinds of beans (refried, black beans, or pinto beans), dinner plates of all varieties, all kinds of salsa, a BUNCH of meat selections (carne asada, carnitas, chicken asada, spicy chicken with red sauce, chicken verde, al pastor, chili verde, lengua, chicken mole, prawns, salmon).

So if you're not from San Francisco, and wonder what a San Francisco style burrito is REALLY like, Pancho Villa's is your place. It'll spoil you for any other town's burrito. — Owen Bly

Magnolia Cafe, 5687 Commerce St., St. Francisville, LA (Just north of Baton Rouge)

The Magnolia Cafe is one of the most pleasant places Red Meat has ever played. This venue offers up good old-fashioned Southern hospitality, the likes of which most Yankees can never even imagine. From the minute Red Meat walked into the restaurant/club, proprietors Robin and Kevin welcomed the band with open arms and an open bar. Before our show, the club served us up plates of muffalettas (a New Orleans treat that can best be described as an Italian deli sandwich from heaven), roast beef, and a variety of green salads. Our glasses were never empty. After the show, the kitchen made us two huge homemade pizzas, and kept refilling our glasses. We somehow managed to find room for all of these delightful treats in our happy-but-distended stomachs.

The really cool thing about the Magnolia is the 3-V Tourist Court, which is located just behind the club. The 3-V was built in the 1940's, and was Louisiana's first motor court (think of the the place Loretta and Do spent their honeymoon in "Coalminer's Daughter"). Kevin and Robin have redone the interior of each cottage, but the midcentury charm remains in each room. Bands get to stay in the cottages for free, but I'm willing to go back and PAY! After two weeks of Motel 6, the 3-V was welcome--it was homey, charming, and comfortable.

The Magnolias offers up both Louisiana and Mexican cuisine, plus homemade pizza and desserts. Don't be put off by the large menu--all of the dishes are tasty, cheap and served with a smile. — Owen Bly

Albert, the tamale guy, all over Austin, TX

You'll most likely find Albert at a live music show. Although not really a restaurant, we in Red Meat figure we must give a shout out to Albert, a gentleman who makes some of the best tamales going.

We met Albert when we played at Ginny's Little Longhorn in Austin. A middle-aged moustachioed Hispanic man wearing a faux satin black jacket (like the kind that would say "Oakland Raiders" on the back or something), Albert walked in during the first set carrying a medium sized white cooler with red trim. During my managerial scans of the room, I noticed some people talking with him and money exchanging hands, followed by a tinfoil-wrapped product he would take from the cooler.

Another thing about Albert: he was really into the music, and obviously having a great time. I liked the guy without ever meeting him. But right after the first set finished, he made me like him even more when he offered us free tamales. Now, we were all stuffed after having dinner with Bradley at Guero's, but we're not the type to turn down free tamales. He had a choice of mild or spicy. We're also not the type to choose mild. So spicy tamales it was.

These are pork tamales, folks, so if you're a vegetarian, stick to, well, vegetarian things. And spicy! Whoo-ee! Michael, Jill, Smelley, Les and I chowed down on 'em in back of Ginny's while Scott stayed inside enjoying an Anheuser-Busch product. These are really, really good tamales. Home made. There's really not much more to say.

If you're in Austin, checking out some live music, and you see Albert, buy some tamales from the man. You won't regret it. — Owen Bly

Taste of Texas, 545 N. Citrus, Covina, CA (626) 331-2824

It's always nice when a place you play at feeds you. When the food is as good as it is at Taste of Texas, it's a genuine pleasure.

Red Meat played a gig at Taste of Texas this past week. The strange thing about this restaurant: when you go in, it's like you're actually IN Texas. The openness of the building, the big fan blowing a refreshing breeze, the laid-back clientele, but most of all the food, all seem to drop you smack dab in the middle of a warm -- ok, a hot -- South Texas afternoon.

The food is freakin' bountiful. A mix of Texas BBQ and Mexican fare. We ate once when we got there and once more before we got in the van to go home. Jill had the BBQ brisket plate, and it was absolutely insane. Owen had beef fajitas, and they were simple (just steak and onions) and just about the best damn fajitas in the world. Perfectly marinated, and really tender. Montalto had himself a couple of tacos. The tortillas are homemade and fresh, the side dishes (in this case cole slaw and Texas beans) are perfect.....no kidding, folks, you've really got to try out Taste of Texas.

Just before we hit the road to head back to San Francisco, Jill bought everyone a big bag of tacos, and we all feasted as we drove through Covina to the freeway. Have you ever had a BBQ brisket taco? (This question doesn't apply to Texans -- you guys live on that stuff). It's nirvana in a tortilla. A fresh, homemade tortilla if you're at Taste of Texas. DEFINITELY worth the drive to Covina. — Owen Bly

Pink's Hot Dogs, 709 N. LaBrea Blvd. (near Melrose), Hollywood, CA

Started by Paul Pink in 1939, Pink's Hot Dogs is a Hollywood legend. Serving food on weeknights 'til 2 AM and weekends 'til 3 AM, it's also a great joint for post-gig scarfing.

This is one of those fantastic little L.A. stands like Johnnie's Pastrami that has tons of history and the best hot dogs on the west coast, bar none. My own personal favorite is the simple chili-cheese dog: the chili is so thick, I swear I have no idea how they do it. And so dang flavorful! And when your teeth reach the dog, there's a delightful little snap that tells you you're eating a fine sausage product. Smelley goes for the spicy Polish dog -- he gave me a bite of his once, and when they say spicy they mean it. The Great Montalto has put away something called a "Roseanne Barr" -- a footlong with chili and kraut, that pleased him greatly.

And you never know who you'll run into at Pink's. It's a favorite hangout for many a Hollywood-type celebrity, as well as San Francisco-based honky tonkers. In fact, if you see Red Meat in Los Angeles, and ever want to yak to one of the guys, just head for Pink's after the show. We'll be there.

By the way, when you hit Pink's at 1 in the morning, and the line is half an hour long, don't get discouraged. Strike up a conversation with people around you and wait it out. The food is worth every minute of waiting in line at Pink's. — Owen Bly

Guero's Taco Bar, 1412 S. Congress, Austin, TX

You may get the idea that Red Meat likes to eat, and that idea would be pretty damn close to the truth. In fact, it IS the truth. We love eating. Every single one of us. Even the relatively slim Great Montalto and svelte Les James can put food away like troopers. And as for Scott, Smelley, Jill and myself, just get out of our way. As mentioned previously in these pages, one of our favorites is Mexican food. And some of the best Mexican food around is at Guero's Taco Bar in Austin. We were introduced to Guero's by our friend Bradley J. Williams, whose bands Los Pinkys and the Gulf Coast Playboys sometimes grace the stage at Guero's. Anyhoo, we found the food to be so outstanding that some of Red Meat (who will remain nameless) ate at Guero's three times during our recent 2 day stay in Austin on our fall 2002 tour. I can tell you from my experience that they have this thing called carne guisada — it's like a Mexican beef stew, almost — that rocked my very foundation. I got it as part of the "Oaxaca Especial" with a plain quesadilla.

We don't have carne guisada in California, and after having it at Guero's, I fully intend to write Governor Schwarzenegger and demand it. The meat is so tender and so tasty....sigh.

Also a favorite with Red Meat is Guero's al pastor tacos, which the manager was kind enough to comp us on. We were, after all, eating with Bradley J. Williams (Try it sometime, it works!). These came with fresh lime to squeeze over the entire thing....sigh. And the tortillas! They're all hand made and dang near perfect.

And the margaritas...all freshly made and hand shaken....sigh. If you want to get all warm and sappy over your Mexican food like me, be sure to stop in at Guero's Taco Bar next time you're in Austin.

And if Bradley's playing, you're better off for it. — Owen Bly