Jan 11 2007

Public Cans of Austin: Blue Star Cafeteria

It is a comfort to know that, in the event of a sudden torrent, the can designated for use at Blue Star Cafeteria by people who identify or are identified as women is equipped with a handy drain.

Although it is a restaurant, the Blue Star Cafeteria isn’t a cafeteria. Naturally this is both distressing and a huge relief.

It’s a relief because if it really were a cafeteria — a species of restaurant notable only for its ability to attract a dining clientele despite its open hostility toward food — my gaping maw wouldn’t have gone within a mile of it at lunch today, and I would have become peckish.

But it’s distressing because it harbinges* the brutal murder of yet another perfectly decent word; at the Blue Star, the meaning of “cafeteria” in all its 20th century formica-and-steam-tabled splendor has not only been sacrificed to irony (irony is unconscionable whenever food is involved), but has been made into one of those words that can no longer be relied upon to mean what it means. I can but shove my furrowed brow into white-knuckled hands. What a world. What’s next? Bell-bottom pants?

Nevertheless, to the Blue Star Cafeteria we did hie. It’s owned by the same guy who runs the more decently named 34th St. Cafe, where a serviceable sandwich has on more than one occasion found a warm welcome in the Twisty paunch, and which my sister Tidy always engages to cater events she doesn’t invite me to, so we thought, why the heck not try the new joint.


Here is Maverick, congenial Blue Star host who was unable to contain his exuberance over the comical resemblance of my camera lens to a flaccid reproductive organ that will remain unnamed (I confess I egged him on by wiggling it up and down repeatedly).

Vegetarians avert your eyes, for the next thing you see will be the blue cheese bacon burger consumed without compunction by Stingray.


Then we ate coconut chess pie, which pie I can recommend without reservation.

*No, it’s really a word. Look it up.


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  1. alphabitch

    I guess harbingers have to do something. It only makes sense that they’d harbinge. But why is it called chess pie?

  2. jbeeky

    Dig yer shoes.

  3. JRoth

    irony is unconscionable whenever food is involved Hear, hear. One of the first indications that I could really get on with the locals here in provincial, inferiority-complexed Pittsburgh was when a previously-successful restaurant outfit utterly bombed with a dineresque establishment called “Mr. Jones.” I never ate there, but it was entirely clear that the concept, such as it was, was ironic diner food-more-or-less traditional meatloaf, but expensive. Get it?

    On a side note, floor drains are pretty much a code requirement in toilet rooms. Probably not present in your older, crappier cans, but ubiquitous in newly-built establishments.

  4. stingray

    My question exactamente. Here’s what I found:


  5. Pinko Punko

    Math anti-spam! I LOVE IT. Up next, STATE CAPITALS!

    I am ill-bred, I realize this, but my particular predilection for hamburgers includes both mayonnaise and an accessory meat. Usually of porkly variety, bacon, ham or bacon de canadienne are acceptable, yet so is pastrami, which is derived from the mysterious and elusive pastrami beast.

  6. Sylvanite

    That chess pie sounds interesting. I recently learned to make pie crust – maybe I could try to make a chess pie!

  7. norbizness

    Thank God the Luby’s Cafeteria on E. Oltorf is a model of steam-tray constancy.

  8. MousieGrrl

    Wow! That burger looks….. so good! But what I really want to know is how did you get that awesome frizz look on the cole slaw? Please don’t tell me it was Photoshop; I might begin the think the burger wasn’t so juicy.

  9. Dykonoclast

    I did look up the verb form of harbinger. Turns out, according to dictionary.com that it’s still harbinger. As alphabitch astutely observed, harbingers do do something. But they harbinger rather than harbinge.

    Slutever. I’d still lick Twisty’s boots.

  10. Pinko Punko

    Above, agreed, but metaphorically. Not boots that have been in that can.

  11. B. Dagger Lee

    O Dear, what can the matter be?
    Seven odd genders were locked in the lavatry.
    They were there from Sunday to Saturday,
    And nobody knew they were there!

    The first odd gender was the Twisty Faster.
    The spinster went in for a puking disaster
    and stayed to be a photo broadcaster.
    And nobody knew she was there!

    Chorus: O Dear, what can the matter be, etc.

  12. jezebella

    Chess squares are also quite nice, and require no pie-crust skills. One can make chess squares with chocolate cake mix, resulting in Chocolate Chest Squares, and these are really, really good.

    I had no idea chess pie was a Southern thing. How tragic for the rest of you that you do not have chess pie in your life. I’m so sorry.

  13. dingbat

    Lordy, it’s been so long since I’ve had a chess pie that I forgot I missed it. I’m off to the kitchen!

  14. Sylvanite

    But, but, I have mad pie-crust skillz!

  15. Twisty

    Dykonoclast, I am using the online version of the OED, which trumps Dictionary.com. I win.

    harbinge, v.


    2. [nonce-use from harbinger.] trans. To be a harbinger of, to announce beforehand.

    1868 WHITMAN Sel. Poems, Starting fr. Paumanok 17 The future of the States I harbinge. 1897 Mem. F. O. Morris 83 Harbinging the return.

  16. kathy a

    oh, boy — the OED always wins. and clearly, blue star should be a cafe.

    but good looking food. i think chess pie really is southern, jezebella — http://southernfood.about.com/od/chesspies/Chess_Pies_and_Custard_Pies.htm. but it seems related to desserts like flan and pots de creme. i’ll take the cheesecake, though.

  17. Buttercup

    That cheeseburger looks obscenely good to this avowed omnivore. It’s things like blue cheese bacon burgers that doomed my brief foray into vegetarianism.

    JRoth, I don’t remember “Mr. Jones”. But the Six Penn restaurant, down there at the corner of (wait for it) sixth and penn is owned by Eat n Park. I haven’t been there yet, but I understand it’s good.

  18. Occasional Expositor

    I’ll see your chess pie and raise you a sugar pie.

    From the nation that brought you poutine.

  19. grr kitty

    The daughter of a true pie artist, I was born with no crust skills, to my everlasting shame. Mine comes out cardboardy and tasting the way wet dog hair smells. So when I’m in need of a pie fix, I am forced to purchase it. My admiration and envy for those with mad pie-crust skillz is indeed boundless.

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