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May 17, 2008 11:37 AM

Galloways Soul Food:Feeding The Neighborhood

My friend who earns a very nice living as a pastry chef in Paris is in for but a few days and is inquiring as to the quintessential Austin food experience.

I have no idea what that might be but a quick call to Galloways on E.12th St later we're clambering aboard my bike and motoring towards one of my favorite areas of town.

The East 12th and Chicon zone is one of the final spots on the Eastside wonderfully unadorned by progress.Rolling past Reggies fried fish stand I notice a good bit of construction hard behind the little red's all toppled on the ground from last nights kerfuffle and I believe I see Reggie himself surveying the damage.Could Reggie be masterminding a proper brick and mortar style joint?I wonder to myself.

I make a mental note to come back later as we pull into the dirt and gravel parking lot which serves Galloways,the former Nation of Islam,the White Swan and a small barber shop.There's a small group of young bloods in the parking lot on the cat's spinning around on a brand new 50 cc dirtbike...another guy's trying to figure out how to get his truck running and a gaggle of girls from the neighborhood are watching the proceedings with all the wry commentary you might expect.

Walking in the smells hit right off the bat.Onions are frying,cornbread is baking,Sweet potatoes are simmering,a nice bitter note of Greens is off in the mix somewhere as well.Everything is right and good at Galloways on this day.

We walk up to the vaunted steam line and peer at the offerings.A handsome rack of meatloafs is in one #1 pan,pork chops that've been fried then braised in brown gravy another.The vegetable offerings are Mashed Potatoes,Creamed Corn and Mustard Greens.

We make our way to table with our bounty and begin to feed.The Cornbread muffins are historically dry so I've asked for a monkey dish of the Brown Gravy that the chops are riding in,crumble up a muffin in the sauce and get on down.The Gravy is delicious,rich and salty.The Mashers are perfect,creamy with little chunks of starch that have resisted the mashing.The Porkchops are a good mix of fat and lean,simple trenchermans fare...fuel for a days worth of hard work.

The scene is neat and clean.A table filled with elderly Black men is to our left,they're busily talking amongst themselves about the storm damage...another table is filled with workmen hunkered over their plates fueling up for the rest of the long day.A couple housewives are kicking it in some fuzzy slippers and simple frocks happy to be off the hot stove and having someone else do the cooking for a change.

Walking out into the sunsplashed day the neighborhood is teeming.Folks are strolling down to Sams Barbecue for smoked meat...the barbershop is bustling...Five O is rolling nice and slow looking for a stray miscreant or three.We thread through the crowd in the parking lot,well fed and ready for a day of folly.

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  1. You nailed Galloway's essence, sc. I enjoy sitting down next to someone you'd probably never meet, or consider meeting, otherwise and having a great conversation with your lunch.

    The most amazing thing about the food is that I've always found it to be perfectly seasoned. Just enough salt to bring out the flavor but never under-salted to cater to misinformed gourmals. Also I've never found the owner not smiling or entirely gracious. Not too many restaurants like Galloways in Paris I'd imagine.

    1. I just got back from a two-week bender in Basque country where I ate my face off, and this is exactly the kind of stuff I missed, and am happy to read about again. Nice one, chef. I need to pay my 'spects to ole Galloway.

      1. This is one of the most descriptive and well written reviews I have read in a long time. I almost feel like I was there with you. Excellent writing. I'm sure that Galloway's Soul Food will see many hounds in the coming days...

        1. Thanks for the great review -- but you have to tell us what your friend thought of the meal!