Evolution 2016: Food

August 20, 2016 • 10:30 am

by Greg Mayer

After Jerry noted that the world’s most expensive BBQ is dry-aged and in New York City, and that “true Texans wouldn’t have anything to do with” it, I thought it might be a good time to feature Texas BBQ, which I enjoyed at Iron Works BBQ in Austin while at the Evolution 2016 meetings earlier this summer.

Iron Works is in an old iron works at the corner of Red River and Cesar Chavez Streets, conveniently located just down the block from the convention center where the meetings were held. It was recommended by locals, and so I went with a couple of colleagues. You order and pick up your main course at a counter window, grabbing drinks out of an open ice chest and heading to the check out, and then get to sit down.

One of my colleagues had the pulled pork, with which she had a Shiner IPA (Shiner being a brewery to the southeast of Austin).


My other colleague had the sampler plate– brisket, ribs, sausage, and maybe you can spot some other sort of BBQ in there. (New category of WEIT post: Spot the meat!)

I had the sausage, with an added large pickle. For sides I had creamed corn– delicious, and you don’t often see it these days– and beans– also delicious. But they didn’t have my two favorite Southern sides: okra and fried pickles. There may well be regional variations in side preference and availability, which as a northerner, I am not accustomed to.


Like all good BBQ joints, there was a roll of paper towels at the table.


I went back another time with another colleague, this time enjoying the brisket, with potato salad and mac and cheese as my sides. I washed it down with a Big Red, a Texas-made soda of the cream soda/Dr. Pepper class.


For a more upper crust brunch, a colleague and I went to a classier joint, with bloody marys


and beignets with a cream sauce among the comestibles. Beignets are a New Orleans specialty, which I guess have migrated west to Texas.


Austin is famed for its musical nightlife, and there were two areas I got to see.

Dead robot soldiers.

The first was the Rainey Street District, which is an older residential neighborhood, now with condos, with the remaining low frame houses (and their lawns) converted into bars. It attracted mostly the young urban professional crowd. These two signs were in the neighborhood (the pictures obviously taken in daylight). I don’t know what the second one means, but it has a cat, so I liked it.

The other nightlife area was 6th Street, which seemed the more traditional honky-tonks-with-live-bands kind of a place I was expecting. This is Darwin’s Pub, which of course was a must see for visiting evolutionary biologists. My vision was not as blurry as the photo– it’s hard to get a decent picture in a darkened pub.


And one night at the street corner bar at the aptly named Corner, we discovered it was a colleague’s birthday, and the waitress managed to rustle up a filled red velvet cupcake for her, which was on the house. After singing Happy Birthday, we devoured it.


I’m off to Alabama

September 2, 2009 • 2:42 pm

. . .with my laptop on my knee.  The good folks at UA Tuscaloosa* invited me down to give two talks: one a lecture to the general public on the evidence for evolution, the other a departmental seminar on speciation in flies (my day job).  I’m donning Kevlar for the former: an announcement of my talk in the Tuscaloosa News has already spawned six pages of heated comments, much of it worried about whether I’ll spread atheism along with biology.

As is my habit (“will lecture for food”), I’ve asked to sample the indigenous culinary delights, said to include ribs at Dreamland (and I’m quite partial to banana pudding).  Now if they can just dig up a decent meat-and-three place. . .

In the meantime, until Saturday pm, Greg Mayer and/or Matthew Cobb will be filling in for me.

1204837655_6745Fig. 1.  Ribs at Dreamland.  Do they match Chicago’s best?


*From the Tuscaloosa Convention and Visitor’s Bureau web page: Tuscaloosa was the source of a joke in the 1931 Marx brothers film “Animal Crackers.” Groucho Marx discusses shooting an elephant and attempting to remove the tusks. “Of course in Alabama the Tusc-a-loosa, but that is totally irrelephant to what I was saying,” he quipped.