The presidental election of 2016 was a disappointment to the "poular vote" but the Electoral College prevailed, as per the will of the Founding Fathers of our great country. As you travel Highway 50 in rural Nevada, you'll notice that the every commuity you pass is very "red," in political slang, and no area could be more red than the small town of Austin, and especially the International Cafe and Bar, also known as the International Hotel.
As with all of reviews that I publish, I have no affiliation with the restaurant reviewed, and there is no monetary gain on my part, as I am simply a person who likes to eat, and I love to write-up, and publish my dining experiences.
Warning: This article contains photos and language that may offend sensitive readers.
Photo: The International Cafe and Bar, also known as the International Hotel. The hotel is no longer in operation, but if you plan to stay in Austin, there are two motels in town. It's 5 o'clock on Friday afternoon, June 16, 2017, and I'm looking forward to an early dinner at this unique restaurant. After 4 in the afternoon, International Cafe is the only restaurant open, but nearby Owl Club is sporadically open, but mostly serves pizza and beer.
Photo: International Cafe and Bar certainly isn't shy about displaying their political preference, even eight months after the election. Actually, they're not alone, as rural Nevada is very conservative.
Photo: The owner of the restaurant, Vic, is originally from Serbia, and he has very strong opinions about Muslims, Californians, and anybody who disagrees with him politically. Under his "hard shell," Vic is a great guy.
Photo: Antiques? Heirlooms? Keepsakes? Replacements? Whatever you call these goodies, they are outside the building on the sidewalk.
Photo: As you enter the restaurant, you'll note the counter is to the left, and the room is furnished with tables and chairs. Each table has a carousel with condiments and napkins. The kitchen is to the extreme rear of the restaurant. The decor of the cafe is very plain and dated, with lots of antiques, but definitely exhibits a lot of rural charm.
Photo: The dining room, looking from the rear of the restaurant toward the front door. My server, Angel, is behind the counter.
As I entered the restaurant, I initially sat at the counter, near the couple seated at the counter, who were the only customers in this mostly empty restaurant. The lone server, Angel, seemed to be busy refilling condiment bottles, wiping tables, and performing other chores. I wasn't in a hurry, but I had to flag her down to ask for a menu, and to order a beer.
Photo: International Cafe and Bar is famous for their amazing burgers, but today, the menu only offered sandwiches, and a few other goodies. The flip side of this menu featured the selection of pizza being offered on this Saturday afternoon. I decided on a chorizo sandwich, as Austin is Basque country, and chorizo is a very popular choice.
Photo: After I placed my order, since the dining room was mostly empty, I decided to move from the counter over to a table by the window. Now, things get interesting... As Angel arrived at my table with my beer, I gave her my business card, and explained to her what I do: Take photos for this website, Facebook, and enjoy great food. She said, and I quote, "I will keep your business card, and ask the cook if you can take photos."
The cook appeared in a couple of minutes and was very negative about me taking photos. She mentioned that bad reviews had been posted on TripAdvisor, but I told her that I had nothing to do with TripAdvisor, and that I post favorable reviews on my website, and Facebook. She finally said it was OK to take photos, but I thought it would be good to keep a low profile.
Check out the photo, as the cook appears at the right side of the photo, dressed with a green shirt. The aforementioned exchange was from across the dining room! The couple sitting at the counter seemed nonplussed about the entire exchange...
Photo: The kitchen is quite small, compact, and a bit cluttered. No worries, as I never judge a restaurant by the kitchen, only by the quality of food, and the friendliness of the staff.
Photo: My server Angel, who was not particularly friendly, is busy behind the counter, slicing a pie. When she brought my order to me, I didn't ask to take a photo of her, as I was pretty sure she was photo shy.
Photo: I love the Trump poster, and the Fender guitar that serve as decorations at the window, next to my table. There was also a selection of magazines and paperback books, which I assume you can read while you're waiting for your food to arrive.
Photo: My view, from my table, of the couple, seated at the counter, enjoying their meal. The view made me think of the website, "People of WalMart."
Photo: My order arrived in about 15 minutes. Thanks, Angel, for snapping my photo.
Photo: My chorizo sandwich, along with fries. The menu states that fries or potato chips are included with every sandwich; fries was an easy choice for me.
The sandwich was rather plain, as it was a chorizo patty on two slices of lightly toasted bread. That was it: No tomato, lettuce, onion, or anything. The only condiments offered were mustard, ketchup, and several varities of hot sauce.
In retrospect, I should have "asked" for tomato, lettuce or onion, but I didn't. I applied a bit of mustard and enjoyed my early dinner.
Photo: Close-up of one half of my chorizo sandwich. Despite the fact that it was "naked," it was delicious, hearty, filling, and at $7.00 - no sales tax in Nevada - a good value. With the beer, the total came to an exact $10.00. I feel the prices are reasonable, considering the restaurant has a monopoly on dinner in Austin.
The chorizo served at International Cafe and Bar is not the variety of chorizo found in most grocery stores, outside of central and northern Nevada, and selected communities in eastern California and Oregon. This is Basque-style chorizo, made in Carson City. It's delicious, mildly spicy, but is very different from the more common Mexican chorizo that most of us associate with chorizo.
Photo: After enjoying my early dinner, and paying for it, I decided to go to the bar, which is co-located with the restaurant, under the same roof. I really wanted to chat with Vic, the owner of the restaurant and bar, who seems to be a local legend, and quite a character. After entering the bar, my eyes met upon this racy painting. Could this be a painting of a girl who once worked at the hotel? I should have asked Vic.
Photo: Vic is standing behind the bar, chit-chatting with Jerry, a local, former Marine, with beer in hand. Angel is taking a break from her restaurant duties, and is busy texting on her phone.
Don't you love the decor? It is definitely very dated, decorated with antiques, along with dollar bills pasted on the walls and ceiling.
Vic is quite a character, just as I'd heard about from various sources. He dislikes liberals, Muslims and tourists from California. I am definitely not a liberal or a Muslim, but I AM a tourist from California; I can't help that. However, I'm not stupid, as I'm very familiar with rural Nevada, and how the locals dress and act. I dressed western, which is a popular dress in rural Nevada; you'll see more cowboy hats in rural Nevada than you'll see in Texas.
It was very interesting to chat with Vic. I complimented him on the chorizo, and he beamed and told me it was real Basque chorizo, and he had to go all the way to Carson City to obtain it. (As an aside, the chorizo was excellent!) I also complimented him on the Trump decorations - I also voted for Mr. Trump - and his conservative political views. He laughed, looked me in the eye, and stated, "If you don't like my politics, go fuck yourself. " Exact quote from Vic. He owns the restaurant, so he doesn't have to be "politically correct" to anybody. If you don't agree with his point of view, walk out. I admire his self-assured attitude.
All in all, considering the few rough edges of the cafe and the staff, I enjoyed my meal, and the time I spent at International Cafe and Bar, as it's a different sort of dining experience that you'll enjoy at any national chain restaurant, or for that matter, most any other restaurant. After Toiyabe Cafe closes at 4 in the afternoon, your only dinner option in Austin is International Cafe and Bar.
If you don't agree with Vic's politics, keep a low profile, dress like a local, and enjoy a meal at one of the most interesting restaurants that you'll ever find, on the "Loneliest Road in America."
International Cafe and Bar
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