Saturday, June 27, 2015

Once upon a Turkey Sandwich

It took five years and many Houston-Austin round trips via Texas State Highway 71 before I “discovered” the Hit the Spot Café in Garfield. What took me so long to find out about a place that’s garnered positive reviews on Yelp and Foursquare? The café hides inplain sight inside the Garfield Community Library.

How many times did I marvel at the packed parking lot of the Garfield Library? I’d glance over from my spot behind the wheel or in the passenger seat and chalk up the library’s popularity to story time or ESL classes. A librarian would have shushed my speculations and insisted I research the place.

As it happens, the East Travis Gateway Library District, to which Garfield belongs, offers story times, ESL classes, and karate classes in its Learning Center. The draw in Garfield is different.

The charming library features portraits of the presidents, a bead board-covered counter, and welcoming vibe. It offers food for thought, and thinking frequently leads to hunger. That’s where Hit the Spot comes in. The restaurant offers breakfast all day, daily specials (beef tips on Wednesday; fried catfish on Friday), plus friendly, efficient service.

Hit the Spot fills a dining void in the 71 corridor north of Bastrop and south of Austin Bergstrom International Airport. The cafe is open for breakfast and lunch seven days a week and for dinner Friday nights. 

What’s more, the restaurant/library combination teaches lessons in peaceful co-existence. At lunchtime, the wait for a café table can range from five minutes to twenty, and would-be diners are welcome to browse library books or work on a communal jigsaw puzzle. There’s a display of books by a spotlighted author and a table of freebie books.

If you like books, biscuits, and chicken-fried steak, the Garfield Community Library has you covered.


Liz Flaherty said...

That sounds wonderful!

Pat O'Dea Rosen said...

Hi, Liz,
It is wonderful. I can't wait to go back. If I'm fifth on the list for a table, so what? I can read a first chapter.

Jennette Marie Powell said...

Sounds like the community's best kept secret. That would be the one place I wouldn't mind waiting to be seated, even if for a long time--all those books!

Patricia Rickrode w/a Jansen Schmidt said...

What a clever idea. Someone was definitely on the ball with that idea.

Patricia Rickrode
w/a Jansen Schmidt

Karen McFarland said...

Dining? In the Library? I can only imagine how well the two go together. Well, eating and reading have always made for good company. That really Hits the Spot! :)

Anonymous said...

Hi, Pat - I was sure you were talking about Garfield, NJ in your post. :)

- Patrick

Pat O'Dea Rosen said...

Hi, Jennette,

If I lived in Garfield, I wouldn't blab to outsiders about the place because the wait for a table would stretch to half an hour or more. One of the servers told me the Friday night dinners are especially appreciated by locals.

Pat O'Dea Rosen said...

Hi, Patricia/Jansen,
Well said. Library + cafe is win/win.

Pat O'Dea Rosen said...

Hi, Karen,
The patrons of Hit the Spot aren't dining between stacks of books; the library and restaurant share an entrance, but the restaurant occupies its own half of the shared building. That means diners walk into the library, wave at the librarians, and then turn left into the restaurant. If there's a wait for tables, diners wait in the library. I'm guessing this arrangement has spurred more than a few locals to peruse and check out books.

Pat O'Dea Rosen said...

Hi, Patrick,
I doubt chicken-fried steak is on the menu anywhere in Garfield, NJ. On the other hand, I know Garfield NJ because my friend Sue and brother-in-law Ron grew up there, and a combo eatery/library would fit in that community, with chicken parm subbing for the chicken-fried steak.