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Graves: Keep Austin's doughnuts weird
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Graves: Keep Austin's doughnuts weird

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Austin, Texas, is a city of paradoxes. It’s the capital of one of the most conservative states in the country — a state where you’ll probably feel out of place in some localities if you don’t conceal a firearm in your undergarments, yet Austin is a city widely known for its ultra-liberal social mores that allow some folks to feel comfortable strolling (or staggering) around downtown wearing nothing BUT their undergarments — if that much.

Speaking of downtown Austin, I recently accompanied a friend of mine to the state capital, ostensibly to help him relocate the contents of an office, but it was really just an excuse for us to find new ways to commit acts of insurrection against our waistbands.

Our food tour started on Austin’s famous 6th street, known for its bars, clubs, restaurants, and various bodily fluids. In fact, this fair avenue has echoes (and aromas) of upper Bourbon Street in New Orleans, but with less professional nudity.

Due to the recent mass shooting there, I was somewhat reluctant to go traipsing around “Dirty 6th” — even at 10:00 a.m. — but since my friend is a former Army medic with biceps as big around as my torso, I figured we’d be alright. Besides, our first objective was doughnuts, and no national crime wave was going to stand between us and the dear leader of fried carbohydrates.

Specifically, we were headed to Voodoo Doughnut, a mashup of a gourmet doughnut shop, a punk rock concert and a psychedelic cartoon. Sticking out like a sore thumb wearing bright pink nail polish, the Voodoo Doughnut storefront was partially obscured by the official 6th Street welcoming committee of several half-naked panhandlers (or possibly hungover University of Texas students). Either way, none of them accepted credit cards.

Since I had previously sampled the unconventional delights of the Voodoo Doughnut location on Colfax Avenue in Denver, Colorado, I knew exactly how to punish my pancreas in this place. I ordered the Grape Ape (a vanilla glazed doughnut with a dusting of what tastes like a purple Pixie Stick), the O Captain, My Captain (a vanilla glazed doughnut festooned with Crunch Berries cereal), and the Voodoo Doll (a humanoid-shaped chocolate glazed doughnut filled with raspberry “blood” and featuring a pretzel stick for a stake). In the spirit of Austin’s progressive attitude toward indecent exposure, I may or may not have taken a dare and also purchased an off-menu body-part-shaped doughnut that only a junior high delinquent (or two grown man-type persons) would find funny.

My friend is currently on a strict dieting program, so he limited his order to a Voodoo Doll and a Maple Bacon Bar (a maple-frosted bar topped with two massive strips of bacon). Our arteries still aren’t speaking to us.

After our office-moving job, we decided to identify as hungry again for lunch at the legendary Hula Hut on Lake Austin. This Hawaiian-themed Tex-Mex joint has several open-air dining areas offering us fantastic views of the water and lakeside homes that cost even more than a school-clothes shopping trip with my three teen daughters. I decided to eat light this time, so I had the Chicken and Guacamole Tubular Taco that was roughly the size of my right leg, served by a cordial but beleaguered bartender who appeared to have spent the previous evening on 6th street and may very well have had Voodoo Doughnut’s Maple Blazer Blunt for breakfast.

We spent the drive back to Northeast Texas vigorously (and loudly) digesting while rocking out to 1980’s hair bands. We made only one stop–at the world-renowned Round Rock Donuts for some of their unique and delectable orange/yellowy glazed donuts because ... donuts.

When I arrived home, I needed a hot shower, a 50-gallon drum of Pepto Bismol, and a marathon prayer meeting. It was a good day with a great friend and some delicious, death-hastening cuisine.

If you get the chance, go down to Austin and sample the weirdness yourself. After an appointment with your gastroenterologist and your local pastor, you’ll be back to feeling normal in no time.

Jase Graves is an award-winning humor columnist from East Texas.

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