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Austintatiously Southern

This past weekend I was in Austin, Texas, for a mid-quarter jaunt. I picked Austin as my vacation destination on the sole basis of its phenomenal food scene: one of my friends told me there were lots of tacos to be had. Incidentally, that same friend later decided not to join us. We would no longer be on talking terms, if not for how truly explosive our dining experiences were.

This grill is on fire

Saving you the hassle of scrambling for a dinner venue for tonight, we give the low-down on Palo Alto’s best Valentine’s Day menu.
We’ve all been on that one Valentine’s dinner from hell.

You know the one: tacky decor, middling food, overpriced wine and — worst of all — the rude waiter, sick from serving roomfuls of doe-eyed couples all night. At best, it is the worst date you and your valentine will have; at worst, it is your last.

Evvia: Palo Alto’s Greek infusion

The octapodaki tou yiorgou ($13.75) requires octopus to be braised in a wine and vinegar stock for precisely 80 minutes, before resting for up to a day; each order is then char-grilled over a mesquite flame in a lemon-oregano olive oil dressing. The octopus’ smoky flavor, intensified in crispy bits of carcinogenic ambrosia, pairs perfectly with the rich 2010 Sigalas Assyrtiko Santorini ($11 per glass), whose fine sea salt finish transports you to the rocky Aegean coastline.