Austin is the one city in Texas which seems not part of Texas – its liberal, its dynamic, it does not adhere to the surrounding cultural norms in a way that does not offend those who do. Hence the city’s tag line ‘Keep Austin Weird’. To a large extent Austin has been successful in preserving its weirdness.
Apparently a seed from Austin’s mindset has escaped and traveled the 200 miles to firmly plant itself in the soil of Houston’s night spots, because Moon Tower Inn is weird, at least for Houston. I hope this trend continues.
Lets check the weird aspects:
- Located in what is mostly an industrial park in Houston’s EaDo neighbourhood
- All outdoor seating
- No website
- A mostly wild-game hotdog menu
- Huge, mostly unknown but appealing on-tap beer offerings
- Crowd defies categorization
- Unapologetic 45-minute wait for food. Signs will warn you of this, so don’t bitch or you’ll get some well-deserved attitude in return
- They run out of beer and food items randomly – have a contingency plan
- Bathroom signs – you are either a taco or corn dog – figure it out
That said, I first tried Moon Tower Inn soon after it opened since their wild game hotdogs became legendary on Chow. They are incredible. If you are not sure what to order, just ask the bartenders to pick something out. They are personable, knowledgeable and will Q&A until they can recommend something you’ll enjoy.
The Lamb Dog is my second favourite to the Coon Dog but the boudin-based Coon Dog is almost always out of stock by the time my late ass arrives. The Lamb Dog is extremely flavourful and spicy with what seems to be a little hot pepper. I had mine with feta and onion this time, one friend called ‘chefs choice’ for his Lamb Dog and was happy with the Jalapenos and ‘special sauce’. Good luck trying to figure out whats in the special sauce, it tastes a little like catsup and black pepper – whatever it is, you’ll enjoy. The dogs come on a pretzel bun which is out of this world good; a little yeasty, a little crispy, a little soft, no salt.
Music at MTI swings wildly around the genres. This time when we arrived it was metal for the first hour then switched to early 90’s hip hop. I had to use Shazam to figure out the artists – mostly it was Will Smith during his Fresh Prince days, with a side of Beasties, Dr. Dre and Young MC. A hilarious but enjoyable time capsule.
Contrary to what you might hear, the neighbourhood around MTI is not that bad. Its not a place I would want to wander miles solo at 2am but I wouldn’t give a second thought to walking solo 2 blocks back to my car at midnight. About parking , street parking along Ennis, Canal and Commerce is widely available and not an issue, however do be mindful of the no parking signs, which are clearly visible and in red font.
If you are looking for a place to roll up as-is, have a few incredible beers, a noteworthy hotdog and relax solo or with your crowd, you just can’t beat MTI.
Drinks: May 2014
Moon Tower Inn | 3004 Canal | HTX 77003