Texas, Day 8: Georgetown to La Grange

April 6, 2021 • 10:30 am

These are lazy days, as the driving distances of my planned itinerary are short—at most three hours per day—there isn’t a lot to see in these small towns, and the day’s main event is usually a meal.

But this down time is good for me, as I’m getting a lot more sleep (a full 8 hours instead of 5 or 6) and am more relaxed, as I always am when I travel. I read a lot and move slowly, knowing that when I return to Chicago there will be work to do on top of Duck Hell: the near-simultaneous breeding (again) of Dorothy and Honey.

But best not to think of that now. Yesterday I woke up around 6 a.m. in Georgetown (population 80,000 and growing fast), got some coffee and ate half of my last mini-pie from the Texas Pie company. This one was pecan, and it was great. The crust was still firm and flaky after four days. I didn’t want to eat the whole thing because I planned a late breakfast at the Monument Cafe, a well known local restaurant with a roster of great homemade foods. That includes the pies, two of which—the coconut cream and chocolate pie with a pecan crust—are famous.

I decided to eat breakfast at 10 a.m. so it would segue into lunch, assuring me that pie would be available. Although I planned to finish up breakfast with the chocolate pie, I was too full for that (and truly, pie after breakfast is a bit weird), and so I got pie to go.

The pre-breakfast mini-pie (I ate half):

The Monument Cafe in Georgetown. You can read Jane and Michael Stern’s laudatory review here.

Even at 10 a.m. there was a 20-minute wait, so I used my time to walk around the grounds, which were teeming with great-tailed grackles (Quiscalus mexicanus). It’s breeding and nesting season here, and the males are displaying to each other constantly, waving their heads, wagging their tails, and making a variety of sounds.

They’re handsome birds, especially the iridescent males. (The females are brown and not as striking.)

Here are two and then three males displaying to each other.

I was called in for my table and presented with the menu. I’d already decided to have their “famous migas”, described by Jane and Michael Stern this way:

One hot breakfast unique to the region is migas, Mexican scrambled eggs that include melted cheese, chunks of tomato, and small ribbons of crisp tortilla that soften in places but stay crunchy in others. [JAC: there’s also jalapeño peppers.] On the side of migas, you get red salsa to heat it up along with grits or hash browns and a soft flour tortilla rolled in aluminum foil so it stays warm.

You also get bacon and refried beans.

My breakfast plate. This was fantastic, especially with the salsa spread over the migas. I used the tortillas to eat the refried beans and delicious bacon. I can’t imagine a more satisfying breakfast! I would love to try all the home-cooked dishes this place offers. (Open only for breakfast and lunch.)

My piece of chocolate pecan pie to go, with a heavy layer of pure whipped cream on top. You can’t see the crumbled pecans that serve as the crust, but I’ve put a picture of the pie from Roadfood below my own photo.

Photo below from Roadfood. Truly, this may be the best piece of pie I’ve ever had. See the crust of candied pecans? It was like eating the most delicious chocolate cream pie atop a pecan pie!

After breakfast I explored the town a bit. Like many small Texas towns, it’s built around a central square with the county courthouse (in this case the Williamson County Courthouse), the grandest building in town. Small streets lined with local shops encircle (ensquare?) the courthouse.

Some of the old buildings east of the courthouse square.  A bit from Wikipedia:

The city was recently named one of the best places to purchase a historic house. Today, Georgetown is home to one of the best preserved Victorian and pre-WW1 downtown historic districts, with the Beaux-Arts Williamson County Courthouse (1911) as its centerpiece. Due to its successful preservation efforts, Georgetown was named a national Main Street City in 1997, the first Texas city so designated.

See also the long list of movies filmed in Georgetown.

Two old buildings north of the Courthouse.

The picture show (closed, of course).

Then I made 1.5 hour drive to Lagrange (population ca. 4,600), where I discovered that the two restaurants where I planned to eat will be closed today and tomorrow. I’ll have to scrounge for meals.

On Wednesday I’ll drive to the airport, stopping at either Lockhart or Elgin on the way to have The Last BBQ Supper. And on Thursday it’s back to Chicago—and an abstemious couple of weeks. No meat!

Truth be told, though, I don’t think I’ve gained any weight on this trip, at least judging by the fit of my pants. I eat only one meal a day, although I do have a piece of pie as well.

24 thoughts on “Texas, Day 8: Georgetown to La Grange

  1. Looks like a tasty breakfast indeed. At first, I thought perhaps “migas” was a name referring to its possible gastrointestinal effect (it gives me gas) but Google Translate says it is Spanish for “crumbs”.

    A day you can have pecan pie with your morning coffee is a good day indeed.

    Typo: “Open only for breakfast the lunch”

  2. Looks unbelievably Jerry!

    You are living what has become only a fantasy for me (and so many others) since the pandemic: traveling, eating, relaxing. All that was the meat of my existence but I don’t when it will make sense to do that again (especially here in lagging Canada).

    I suppose you feel comfortable doing this because you are vaccinated?

  3. And you were only about 85 miles south of the basketball champions there at Waco. Southern Baptist country. Waco is the home of Dr. Pepper and that’s about the only thing I remember.

  4. That migas “omelet” looks more like a shredded quesadilla. 90% tortilla and cheese, 10% eggs! Still, if it’s good, it’s good.

  5. I had some good BBQ in La Grange at a place just off the town square. It was both a meat market and a BBQ place with some tables in the back. That was, however, about 20 years ago and I seem to recall that the place was sold a few years ago.

  6. I cant stand the torture of these food photos! No place like these around NY parts. But I discovered I’ve been making migas for years. Sautéed shallots or onions along with crumbled corn chips …..then stir in beaten eggs with a bit of heavy cream added, on low heat (do not burn the onions or chips!). I prefer butter to olive oil but either works. Omnivore’s Dilemma: which Texan dive has the best BBQ? Solution: try them all. I am so jealous. As for you vegans, my sincere condolences. Food flagellation is something I will never understand. Evolution embedded a meat desire in us; good luck in defying it.

  7. Glad you had such a nice trip. The food has looked great. It is amazing how you are able to find these diners in so many smallish towns…even today’s breakfast joint. Maybe you can provide us a column on your investigative techniques sometime.

  8. When I read your posts (not just this one, but many of your food posts) I’m positively convinced there is no truth in the tales that one cannot get decent food in the US. That appears to be a myth. Mouthwatering.

  9. I occasionally wish I could borrow someone else’s palate so that I could enjoy foods that I can’t seem to tolerate…and pecan pies are one of the several things I would use it for. The taste of the nuts turns my stomach, unfortunately, but I KNOW they must be good because so many people like them! I feel left out.

    Oh, well. I’d even be fatter than I am if I could eat them, I suppose.

    Everything looks amazing, though, especially that migas.

  10. The food looks yummy especially the pie. Georgetown has many historic buildings, I like the art deco movie theatre. Drive safely Jerry.

  11. Williamson County is a dangerous place for biologists. In the 1990’s Bill Russell, a biologist who studied and described many of the locally endemic arthropod species that live in the caves of that county, was doing survey work on state land there and was spotted by the man who leased a neighboring ranch. The man caught Bill and ordered him to kneel down. While Bill was kneeling the gun went off and the bullet wounded Bill. The trial of the shooter happened in that very courthouse you photographed. The good rednecks of Williamson County acquitted the shooter, saying his acts were justified.

    Other biologist friends of mine were also shot at. We had to sneak around at night to explore the limestone caves in that county and discover which ones had locally endemic arthropods. Eventually we got those bugs federally listed as endangered species, thwarting many huge development projects in that county. They really hated us biologists after that.

    I see that nothing has changed in the county since then. Some of its people have organized and, joined by Gov Abbott and spurred on by Trump’s Supreme Court choices, they are currently suing the Fish and Wildlife Service to remove the cave invertebrates from the Endangered Species Act protection. If their arguments are accepted, about 70% of all the endangered species in the US will be de-listed.

  12. migas, Mexican scrambled eggs that include melted cheese, chunks of tomato, and small ribbons of crisp tortilla that soften in places but stay crunchy in others.

    Hmmm, sounds interesting. I might try that, but with croutons in place of the tortilla. Or crout-ed pitta bread, or something. I’ll peel the eyeballs next time I go shopping.

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