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Photo by Omar Omar via Flickr Creative Commons.

College students are always looking for cheap, good-tasting food. To those who think it’s impossible to combine the two, I suggest you check out a couple of the numerous taco stands around Austin.

To provide some advice on the best taco stands in town, I sat down with my friend Andrew Kreighbaum, who writes about taco stands for The Daily Texan.

Austin Appetite: So how do you pick the taco stands that you write about?

Andrew Kreighbaum: I usually spin a wheel like in The Price is Right. Actually I do most of my research online or just talk to people. When people found out I was writing about tacos, a lot of people got really excited. They all have their personal favorites or have heard of places they suggest I check out.

AA: What do you look for in a good taco stand?

AK: There are several criteria. Any taco stands that I’m going to suggest to my friends have got to be cheap, No. 1. If they’re not cheap, then I’m not going to waste my time; I could just go to a brick-and-mortar establishment. There also has to be something unique about it. They have to have character in some way. That could be because of the location or a theme on the menu or a particular item they’re well-known for.

AA: So what is your favorite taco stand and why is it your favorite?

AK: It’s tough to choose just one. It’s like choosing a favorite child, really. I feel like each taco stand says something about the particular region of Austin it’s in, whether it’s the East side or Riverside Drive or South First or North Lamar. It’s tough to decide, but if someone put a gun to my head, I’d say take me to Piedras Negras. There’s a lot of emotional attachment there and that can be more powerful than an original menu item that someone had wracked their brain over. Those traditional flavors and recipes that you can come back to, it’s not that it’s something that goes out of season, it’s something that will always be there and people appreciate that.

AA: OK, you mentioned youre emotional attachment to Piedras, other than that, where can I get a great, cheap taco?

AK: You could just drive for 10 minutes on Riverside.

AA: So you’re saying you’re a fan of all of those places?

AK: Not of all those places, but if you want to get a taco for cheap. I write about tacos but I’m not going to tell people what’s right for them all the time. Some people love a good breakfast taco. That’s not my thing. I prefer a good carne guisada or maybe a crispy torta if I don’t feel like a taco. Everyone just has to find their thing, you know, that one thing they can go back to and rely on in their lives. I don’t want to be the person to tell them what that one thing is, I want to help them find it. I’m like, you know, I want to be the Virgil to their Dante.


Photo by shewatchedthesky via Flickr Creative Commons.

Earlier this week, rumors floating around the internet drew speculation that Starbucks was considering adding a larger, 31-ounce cup to its current tiered scale of Talls, Grandes and Ventes. UT students who heard the news were surely on the edge of their seats, contemplating toting around the two-pound drink from class to class.

Starbucks confirmed the rumors to be true Tuesday, telling Reuters that they were testing their new “Trenta” cups in Tampa and Phoenix. Of all places, Tampa and Phoenix.

As of now, you can’t order a “Trenta White Chocolate Mocha” at your local lurk (there are two on or near campus, two in the Hyde Park area and six more downtown), but you can pick up a 31-ounce iced coffee or iced tea for $3.30 and $2.60, respectively if you head out to the two testing cities.

I’m not real sure why someone would choose a more expensive iced coffee or tea from Starbucks over the cheap, cool drinks you can get at the 7-Eleven on the Drag. I’m always going to be a Big Gulp Slurpee fan, myself, and there are plenty of coffee shops in Austin selling cheaper iced tea or coffee for students to sip on. But to each their own.

Since the testing has just begun, we have a little while before we’ll see the Trenta make an appearance in Austin. But if you’re curious as to what it looks like, here’s a Twitpic of it and for fun, some other names customers have suggested for it.

Photo by oskay via Flickr Creative Commons.

For carnivorous – or even omnivorous – Catholics during Lent, one of the hardest observances is abstaining from meat every Friday. This can be a rough time for college students who rely on burgers from Wendy’s after they get out of class. However, it is customary for some parishes to host non-meat meals during the season as a way of bringing Catholics together.

For most of my college life, during Lent I would stock up on gross, pre-packaged microwavable fish that either smelled horrible once cooked, or had a tendency to have a consistency like rubber. Some would suggest frying your own fish, but that can be time-consuming for the unseasoned pro, and more expensive than some of the meals offered around the diocese. One way of diversifying your eating is to put down that microwavable Gorton’s salmon, and head to one of these parishes.

This week I put together a list of parishes that are hosting meals. Most of the information was available through the Diocese of Austin Web site, but I also added the meals hosted by St. Austin’s (the one on the Drag), which were not included on the list. Most of these parishes will continue to host meals every Friday, but call in advance in case there’s a change in plans. Also, St. Austin’s will be hosting their meal at the University Catholic Center this week, but the location will vary throughout the season. Check their Web site for the full schedule.

Click here for a map of the locations.

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