The most popular girl in school, and Second Bar + Kitchen.

When I was in high school, there was a girl in my class whom everyone loved.
This girl was beautiful.  Smart.  Whatever she attempted, she excelled at it.  When she tried out for cross country, she made varsity.  When homecoming rolled around, she was always on the court.  She edited our yearbook, was in the top 10% of our graduating class, and breezed through the hallways with a permanent smile on her face.
In other words, this was the girl you longed to hate.
“What’s her secret?” I used to think.  “How did she ace our physics test?  How does she never have acne?  What’s her flaw?”
I went through all of high school without discovering it.  She was, quite simply, a genuinely kind and hard-working person.

To my disappointment, she didn’t harbor a secret Jessie Spano-like caffeine pill habit.  She also didn’t gossip really, or relieve her stress on drugs or indiscriminate sex.  

And when she spoke to you, granting you one of those gorgeous smiles or a tinkle of bell-like laughter after you said something funny … oh my God.  You just felt incredible.  
In those moments, you stopped being jealous.  Wishing she wasn’t so damn perfect.  Instead, you felt like you actually were funny, were cooler than you thought, when this girl listened to you.

And I think that was her real secret.

This is how I feel about Second Bar + Kitchen, the current Homecoming Queen of Austin restaurants.

It’s a funny restaurant attraction for me, since my eatery tastes veer toward the low-lit and teensy-sized, like East Side Show Room or Justine’s, those who do actually have some flaws.  Notorious wait times being one of them.  These restaurants aren’t perfect, and that’s what endears them to me so.  I know their miniscule kitchens are crammed with hard-working cooks, I know their waiters and hosts are turning on the charm, I know that each plate is topped with a dash of “I’m so sorry you had to wait!” and cooked in a reduction of “I hope you still love me.”  And of course, I always do.  
But at Second, there’s never been any issue to forgive.

Miraculously, I’ve never had to wait.  And to my knowledge, most do not, even despite its popularity.  The seating stretches outside and up onto an astroturf-covered loft, amplifying its capacity.

I can bring anyone.  Friends to work clients, cautious eaters to risk-takers.

The menu is seasonal, and I’ve loved everything I’ve ordered.  And even things I haven’t.  To be honest, I can’t tell you exactly what the dish is pictured above, because the kitchen sent it out as a gift to the table.  Was it because I’ve eaten there 18 times since it opened last December?  Or because they knew they would get a blog post out of it (they were right).  Whatever the reason, I know that my company and I descended on it ravenously, after we had finished our dinners, and licked our chops like hungry cats when it was gone.

It had crab, and soba noodles, and radishes, and I think miso aioli.  I’ve forgotten the name of the dish.

But the ingredients are beside the point.  My point is, Second has mastered the art of making you feel like that girl in high school did.  Like you matter.

This isn’t a restaurant review exactly, since I can’t remember anything I ordered the last time (or 17 additional times) I dined at Second.

 I just know that it was all incredible, and that I was so taken with each bite, I couldn’t pause to take a picture.  So forgive your humble blogger, and know that a real review post is coming.

I went there weekend before last with my parents, cousin, and girlfriends, and we sat outdoors on the corner of Congress Avenue and Second Street, sipping wine and giggling at Austin tourists on Segways.  My parents had come up for the 4th of July weekend.  

That’s me, with absolutely no hair roots whatsoever, and my dad. 

My two beautiful buds, Megan and Kim.

My mom and my cousin, Marcus.  Way back when Marcus used to be a punk, and had some pretty awesome outfits.  Here he is at Ross’s and my wedding a few years ago:

Marcus puts himself through school, works two jobs, and dresses for success.  But I miss his punk numbers sometimes.  He could seriously work a pair of blue Doc Martens like nobody’s business.
Here’s to more visits, Second Bar + Kitchen.  I’ll review you for real someday, as soon as I can actually force myself to pause between bites, and take some pictures.