1981 and Now

The Top 12 Texas Junk Foods.

(And don't forget the Santo beer.) BY KATHARINE SHILCUTT


Coke Isn't It
Top 5 sodas that aren't Coke or Pepsi.

A long-awaited Austin import finally arrives.
Tracie P
A long-awaited Austin import finally arrives.

"No Coke...Pepsi!"

John Belushi's classic SNL skit is actually an homage to The Billy Goat Tavern, a dingy burger place in Chicago where you will be yelled at for your order, where they really do only serve Pepsi and there are no fries, only chips.

I've checked the place out and eaten a burger there — it's a pretty crappy burger, admittedly, but you can share in the experience that's so well known in our popular culture.

I rarely drink sodas, but sometimes, even when we know they are terrible for us, we just want a damn soda. Choices can be limited due to corporate sponsorship. It's too bad, because there is a whole world of carbonated, high-sugar-content drinks out there.

Though many smaller-market brands have been bought out by Coke and Pepsi, they still qualify simply because they aren't the big two.

5. RC Cola

When's the last time you had an RC Cola? It's probably been awhile.

RC is certainly sweet, but it also has a unique caramel flavor that makes it stand out. RC Cola is the bastard offspring of Pepsi and Coke: sweet like Pepsi, slightly tart like Coke.

If you are wanting a little change of pace — or maybe just want to feel a little more Royal — grab an RC Cola.

4. Cane Sugar Dr Pepper

What sort of Texan would I be if the good Dr didn't make the list? Granted, Dr Pepper is owned by Snapple, but it makes the list due to A) Texan roots and B) unique taste. Twenty-three flavors, man. That's nothing to scoff at.

When Dr Pepper is flavored with pure cane sugar instead of nasty high-fructose corn syrup, the taste is that much better. Forget the Gene Simmons-freakshow flavor Cherry, or any of the other flavor additives, for that matter. Stick with the original 23 flavors. Hard to beat when the sweet tooth is upon you.

3. Blue Sky Soda

Blue Sky is one of those all-natural, organic brands that you can find in Whole Foods or whatever, but it really is a good soda. I'm a sucker for any black cherry-flavored soda, and theirs is pretty good.

Again, an example of pure cane sugar trumping high-fructose corn syrup.

2. Jones Soda

Jones Soda has grown fairly popular. More likely than not, it's well known for the same reason your mom knows about Damien Rice or Ray LaMontagne: It's sold at Starbucks.

Jones produces a whole line of sodas and even does funky, limited-edition varieties for holidays, like a Turkey and Gravy flavor for Thanksgiving and Candy Corn for Halloween.

With some tasty flavors and, again, no high-fructose corn badness, Jones Sodas are a good — if still unhealthy — option.

1. Dr. Brown's

No, this isn't a last-name bias. Dr. Brown's sodas are my favorite.

Dr. Brown's makes a great cream soda and a decent root beer, but the black cherry flavor is my all-time personal favorite soda.

You can usually find Dr. Brown's only in delis, but I've noticed it carried in certain grocery stores, too. If you've never tried one, give it a shot. You won't be disappointed.

Or, most likely, you will be disappointed. Either way, it'll give you something to talk about in the comments section. BY SAM BROWN


Openings & Closings
Nightmares and dreamscapes.

Correspondence this week from the "It Was Only a Matter of Time" department confirmed that The Moghul's has closed. After one disastrous visit to the place, I was never inclined to go back — and it appears the restaurant left other guests with the same impression.

Moving into the spot, however, is another restaurant which I'm already wary of: Harvest Live Grille & Bar, whose move into the former Moghul's (and former Champps) space will mark its second location in Houston. I've only had one meal so far at its Fountain View location and came away terribly unimpressed, but — unlike The Moghul's — not so blatantly offended that I won't return to try its all-organic menu at some point in the future.

In other vaguely disappointing news, Bennigan's is reopening in Houston. And just after I finished beaming with pride over the fact that virtually none of Consumer Reports' top nine U.S. chains are located here. Just terrific. More Bennigan's. It's like waking up from a pleasant dream only to find that you haven't actually woken up and are actually now in the midst of a nightmare because...Bennigan's.

However! There is good news on the horizon...

For one, The Petrol Station has finally reopened its kitchen after some renovations. Patrons who missed the signature burgers had their appetites slaked by a cadre of food trucks that were in near-constant rotation and that will certainly be missed. On the other hand, it's good to have Petrol's kitchen back and intact once again.

Long-awaited Austin import J. Black's Feel Good Lounge finally opened this past week after months of construction/renovation in the former Phil's Texas Barbecue spot along Washington Avenue. According to its Twitter account, the restaurant had been keeping busy prior to the opening by supplying free sliders to residents at the neighboring Archstone Memorial Heights apartment complex. That's one way to ensure local loyalty...

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