Day 9 – Junction to Houston
We stopped in Junction, Texas, for the night and ate smoked turkey and brisket and awesome, smoky baked beans.
And when we woke up the next day, we had a mission: replace the windshield. Greg made some calls and we made a beeline to San Antonio – we were in such a hurry he wouldn’t turn off to see the mini Stonehenge in Texas Hill Country or the largest pair of cowboy boots in the world.
“I’ve never seen so many full-sized pick-ups,” Greg commented. “It’s like if you don’t have one, you’re marked.”
On the curb outside a Volkswagen bug served as a bed for the sign that read “Discount Glass” and as we parked a German Shepherd came out to greet us. A few men walked around the yard in hoodies, their eyes downcast. They spoke to the dog but did not speak to me. I tried to get the dog to go back inside and when I opened the door a big man with a thick Texas drawl hollered commands at the dog, which the dog ignored. When I entered the shop, the man didn’t make eye contact with me. Nor did the woman beside him who leaned over his desk showing him photos which she narrated in a heavy Polish accent. When Greg walked in I said, “I’m with him,” though I’m not sure why I said this as they didn’t seem to care who I was or what I was doing there.
Greg handed over the keys and we asked about a place nearby we could go for a bite. The big Texan suggested Bill Miller, a BBQ and breakfast chain we’d seen a dozen of as we drove through San Antonio. I opened up Uber and did a quick calculation on the time it would take to get downtown and how much it would cost, and I ordered a car.
When we decided to change course and take the I-10 instead of the 20, I had no idea where to eat. I had carefully planned out our campground stays at 300-mile intervals along with lunch and dinner stops where we could find particular regional dishes. Now we were hoteling it due to the rain and driving through different cities. All my restaurant research was mute. But never fear! I’d heard good things about the food in San Antonio. I compiled a list and put them on our Google map. Unfortunately, none of these places was close to Discount Glass.
I chose the closest one – a popular downtown Mexican place with nonstop Mariachi music called Mi Tierra Cafe y Panaderia that Todd Coleman recommend in an old Saveur article.
We hopped out of our Uber to find a chaotic scene of valets and crowds and just as our car drove away Greg realized we’d never get out of this place an hour. And we had to be back by 2 pm when Discount Glass closed up shop for the weekend. We looked quickly around and headed straight for the first thing in view – a newly opened place next door with a big sign that read “Revolutionary Tacos.”
Few things make me smile like good food. I asked what to order and the young, tan girl behind the counter looked at her colleague for approval and with a shy smile said, “the rib-eye with pasilla chile sauce.” “Okay,” I said, one of those, one esquites and set of one al pastor mini-tacos. Everything was yummy, but especially the rib-eye, topped with a slab of grilled cheese not unlike haloumi. We finished our meal, hopped in another Uber and returned at two on the dot.
As luck would have it, as we stepped onto the curb I dropped my phone, shattering the glass. On any other day, this might have thrown me off my game, but today I’d eaten revolutionary tacos.
The guys weren’t done with the windshield yet so we waited in a cave of a room connected to the glass shop’s office. From there we could hear the Texan going on about someone named Linda and how he f___n didn’t want to go to her house.
“Hey,” said the woman, “I dink you have forgotten dat we have customers.” Through the opening to the cave room I saw her gesture towards us. It was one of the stranger places I have obtained a service from in my life, but they had us on our way again with a brand new windshield for $140. It was so nice and clean (and crack-less) that we kept pretending like we could put our hands through it.
As we left San Antonio I located the only phone repair shop in Houston open after 6 pm, where a perfectly normal guy named Ivan from Chicago had my phone repaired in a jiffy and even threw in a protector.
I asked him how he liked Texas. “It’s okay,” he said, “It helps if you like the heat – and barbecue. Because there aren’t any beaches or anything like that.”
“What about Galveston?” I asked, “That’s not far off, is it?”
He looked at me like I clearly did not know Texas and said, “We call that (I swear I thought he said ‘Texas’s rectum’).” I looked back at him, a bit surprised at the word choice.
“Wow, Texas’s rectum,” I said, “that’s pretty harsh.”
“Restroom,” Greg corrected. “Texas’s restroom.” Well, the two weren’t far off anyway.
We managed to get a great deal on a Sheraton that night, and we ate some awesome food at Southern Goods, the highlight of which was the “Beef Belly Burt Ends with cheesy grits, acidic braised greens and syrup. All excellent sustenance before heading to our next destination: Texas’s rectum.