There is really no disconnect or irony at all. There is my abiding and profound attachment to Paris, but small Texas towns are far up there on the attachment scale too. And for similar reasons: the architecture, the thrill of checking out new food places--good and bad--and meeting the local folks. The last baseball game of the summer season was this past Saturday in Elgin, some 35 minutes away. With an hour to kill between drop-off time at 9 a.m. at Elgin Memorial Park and game time at 10 a.m., I knew exactly where I'd be spending the time.
As soon as I dropped off the son, off I went, down the street where I had seen the sign pointing to "Historical District."
Lots of small Texas towns have a smattering of these gorgeous old brick buildings preserved/restored for their "historic" district. But here, in Elgin, there are very highly redone and architecturally stunning in effect long rows of such buildings - each of gorgeous colors and shapes and sizes of brick, wood, metal. Elgin has been doing some good work in the preservation realm I now learn -- from here.
The Elgin Commercial Historic District includes 14 city blocks of commercial and
industrial buildings. Most of these buildings are constructed of locally
produced brick and were erected from 1872 to 1947. During the past 14 years
private property owners, business owners, and the public sector have invested
approximately $9 million in the downtown area
Building after building, each one is very different from the one right next to it, all of which are side-by-side, connected: made of brick of all colors: pale yellow, bright red, brown. Some roof lines are straight across, others arched, some with incredibly ornate designs, with contrasting brick detail in relief.
I was parking and walking for sure, and the first stop would be figuring out how on earth it is that the place known as the home of famous Elgin Hot Sausage, has just a few feet outside the historical district proper a place called "El Maguey."
I hear "maguey" and I think interior Mexico. Oaxaca. Tequila. But here it is advertised as "tex mex," with music playing, here in Elgin, Texas. Must see if they do a breakfast taco with Elgin Hot Sausage. But with breakfast of whole grain organic wheat flakes not too long ago, I just marvel and walk on.
Decide must check out. It says "bistro" after all. Have iPad. Will just have coffee. And maybe a piece of Elgin Hot Sausage and, perhaps, I hope, some idyllic amazing food find of a biscuit. I'll let Guy Fieri know about it even, perhaps...
The long narrow steel table up front looked promising - contemporary chairs.
Well, Newt's has a ways to go. With good bone structure of nice architectural facade, exposed brick, nice choice of mod furnishings up at the front of the restaurant - like I could hang out with the lap top and a latte all day - you just can't be having that acoustical tile ceiling. Architectural crime. The coffee needs a big upgrade. But they're on the right track with the tall, narrow at the bottom to wider at the top coffee "mug" - huge design plus over the nasty coffee mug usually seen at such places - and by such places I mean everywhere.
And I'm talking to you, Kerbey Lane Cafe and Magnolia Cafe. This mug should be outlawed. Coffee hangs on the edge of it. The temperature drops from the time it leaves the mug to getting into the consumer's mouth because of that large lip on top of the mug that the coffee has to move over. Then the coffee backwash from drinking it lingers and stains as it builds up on that lip of the mug. It's just gross. I never drink coffee out of these things. Newt's gets A+ on the mug design upgrade.
Newt's gets a D- for not having a single item with Elgin Hot Sausage.
I regretted not trying City Cafe.
It looked like it had it going on.
I walked on.
I eventually head back for the baseball game. It is the last game of the season.
To avoid heat stroke as the game went into hours 3 and 4, I headed back to town, for AC. And to City Cafe.
Now, this is what I'm talking about for historic charm for a food find in a small town well-restored historic district. Exposed brick. Painted brick wall in the other, adjoining dining room. (The other dining room is not charming - there is an icky gingham, floral feel in there.) Stay in the main dining room, pictured here.
But what would I absolutely get next time? Their MANY Elgin Hot Sausage items: omelettes, grilled sausage and onion and peppers sandwich. (Take notes, Newt's).
I also would get the 7-inch high lemon merinque pie I saw getting carved up. I seriously do not think I have ever seen such a mountain of merinque. The cake items look not too bad either.
That's what Newt's needs (in addition to better coffee and Elgin Hot Sausage items). And if Newt's does not have such wood beneath the acoustical tiles, they need to buy some of that historic charm.
And I, though back in Austin and back in the AC and thoroughly sunburned from the baseball game outing, will be getting some Elgin Hot Sausage - be it at Central Market or on the next day trip to Elgin.